Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crash course for foreigners on corruption in India

There was a debate going on, on the issue of plausibility of giving crash course to foreigners on corruption in India....

I thought we are prepared know...How is explained here...

'Athithi devo bhava’ is our cultural spine keeping us high on welcoming spree. Come anyone and we spread our red carpet, even not minding borrowing from our neighbours, if necessary, to give a feel good factor to the visitors. Moreover, if the visitor is carrying some different skin color than ours (particularly white), we do not mind stretching ourselves beyond all limits to leave an impression on them. So, definitely the foreigners will be exposed to best educational advising on corruption, if they wish to learn our favorite profession. We have shown immense progress in the field against all odds. Despite the worst economic meltdown the world is experiencing, our country has recorded growth in the field of corruption. Never we felt that there was any crunch of liquid money in the market to be exchanged between hands. We never left the demand and supply wane. Hats off to our relentless effort to keep our corruption spirit high. Commonwealth games have come at the right time to prove our resilience power. We have made our presence felt in international arena with enviable level of corruption in commonwealth games preparation. Now is there any need to win medals to make a niche in these games. Our popularity is all time high, preparing ground to attract many foreign students to take crash course on corruption.
The curriculum designed for foreigners will include extensive academic training, exposure to best practices and internship on multi-dimensional, coordinated and proactive approach to corruption. The course will integrate active and participative learning approaches. The objective of the course would be to develop a program involving reflection, advocacy and action to address their lack of understanding. Field visits with special projects specifically to gain insights on best practices of increasing the resilience of the community and expertise of perpetrators will be planned. It will also include case study analysis and comparative study.
I also envision the crash course program to focus on professional training and practice on actual coaching, outside the class room setting, on the application of corruptive means in varied situations. We have experts in all fields-Corrupt politicians, corrupt judges, corrupt police officers, corrupt bureaucrats, corrupt contractors, corrupt educationists etc. who have proved their expertise in our country for last sixty years. An ex CVC has recently corroborated our potential on the subject. Without mingling words he has ascertained that we are spreading our tentacles fast, leaving behind by miles other competing countries. There has been desire by many more to join the bandwagon of corrupts, embracing into its ambit major chunk of the public servants.
Crash course is basically meant for those who already are versed with subject and need mere polishing. My suggestion is not only to go for crash course but degree courses too. This discussion has now opened a prospective field of study in India. I am sure the higher education department will be deluged with offers from educational institutions to start the course. Hopefully, maximum students will be foreigners as the subject is too common for an Indian, taught with élan in schools, home and working places alike. I see coffers overflowing with foreign currencies with flood of foreign students coming to get trained. India jaroor aana jones for this course. We promise you the best.

30th Babri Verdict

Is the verdict on Babri case anyway going to change the life of a common man. As such no! but practically yes....we can feel the heat. As a part of law enforcement I can feel the change in air. Is this loyalty towards one's religion/community or sordid manifestation of crisis identity. I just wonder why a common man loses common sense (which is common in both) and gets passionately swayed by uncommon demands of uncommon few, who are just there to satiate their vested interests. I pray, let better sense prevail in all, and let everyone give a sound slap to these dividing forces, by defeating their ill-conceived desires. I have been always proud for our strong resilient culture, loaded with values that have passed on to generations as tradition. That has always kept us in good stead and helped us survive, fight back with vengeance against all negative invasions. I am sure we will puncture the unnecessary inflated hype created and take the verdict in its stride and move on peacefully.


I was in a fix when I received a call from a student, dear to me, with a very peculiar request "Can I join you in the flag march". I had few words to explain my predicament. For him (perhaps), Flag March was an interesting sight with dozens of vehicles blaring hooter at full volume, sliding through on road at snails pace, with law enforcement peeping through the glass panes of vehicles with fixed warning 'no nonsense' stare. I would love to sit with that dear boy and understand his state of mind when he put me in that awkward situation by throwing this unexpected request. Was there an element of glamour or power that attracted him? I had no choice but to turn down politely. "Sorry, can't get you in, midway" was my weak excuse.

“Where are you” was another call from a learned friend. “Flag marching” was my crisp reply loaded with pride for being part of force entrusted to ensure peace and tranquility. “Are you not spreading tension? Your flag march is in fact making a non-knower realize that things are not normal. You are doing more harm than good” He quipped. How could I explain him how much psychological and physical pain we were taking to do this exercise. There was hell of men, money, material and energy involved in organizing this operation. And, the intention was undoubtedly benevolent.

Here I am not discussing the pros and cons of FLAG MARCH, but would merely add, we honestly wish that peace and tranquility prevails.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The facts of come-on-wealth games

I had a tryst with Jonty Rhodes in Delhi during my visit last week visit. No, I am not that big a fan of cricket to remember Rhodes, the legendary fielder of South Africa, even after his retirement a decade ago. Sorry, perhaps I mis-spelt. It was jaunty roads of Delhi giving me a memorable feeling of African Safari around concrete jungle. And all credit goes to our come-on-wealth games (sorry again, commonwealth games) for providing the pleasure of so many rides in one go. The potholes around Cannot Place (Cannaught Place-CP) was deep enough to rear sea animals. To all this, spices were added by the incessant rains, which certified that we are heading towards socialist state, our constitutional desire. Everyone who walked on roads had mud-drained pants, dissolving the class discrimination. No one dared to pick their eyes off the road to check if there was anything to be seen besides pants. Reflexively, my hands lifted to salute our most intelligent political heads for being so visionary to achieve the socialist goal, easily.

Interestingly, a day before a news channel thought of giving a boost to their TRP by continuously showing three parallel images of tribals crossing rivers/streams on rope bridge, while the central government had spent one lakh crore rupees for the game. I had a hearty laugh (hopefully it cleared all the blockades in my arteries) when one minister justified the expenditure by saying that many such lakhs of crores have already been given to this tribals and many more are coming. The discernible gist of the discussion to me (though I always doubt my intelligence) was that the minister was hinting that tribal welfare work was another come-on-wealth games for local, State agencies. So, we must not cry foul for happenings in Delhi. It is systemic and nothing new.

Mr Kalmadi, facing the heat of criticism showed a bold face by challenging his adversaries to institute judicial enquiry to ascertain his misdemeanors. For one moment I got puzzled, surprised on how could he dare to axe his own feet. Was not that suicidal? Then again, a man of wisdom came to my rescue enlisting all the past judicial enquiry promises made, and in case of institution the big cold storage warehouses were the reports are treasured. Hence, Mr Kalmadi was playing a safe bet.

Moaning on the prospects of success of the games, I cited that dengue had hit the citizens hard and added to the woes of Delhi administration. Someone called from the back, ‘equitable distribution of wealth is again a constitutional directive’. How municipality and health services could have compromised on having peanut share to the mammoth expenditure incurred for game preparation. Fighting dengue is money churning activity. We have to breed, annihilate and rebreed mosquitoes to fight dengue, and that is what is being done. Do I smell some conspiracy behind dengue, a foreign hand perhaps.

Our country’s philosophy says ‘Live and let live’. So, please don’t crib on the issue from so far, as you won’t get a piece of pie. Pray that the foreigners come, titillate their taste buds with that attractive menu of more than 30 dishes in one spread, in every meal, and return singing in chorus “Sare jahan se acha Hindustan tumhara”. Come on this wealthy game and help ‘India shine’.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Essential services? Who is responsible?

A new trend of flash strikes of junior doctors has emerged. It seems, similar to other epidemics like swine flu, dengue, bird flu etc the strike has become infectious. I guess, perhaps these doctors learnt the lesson of potency of infectious disease, in waking up the State machinery, while practicing their profession. ‘Unless you put to ransom the State, no head would turn for your cause’ is the guru mantra.

“Why are we given false assurance” is what doctor’s question from the system. God! Are they naïve or pretending as one? Our system is in a habit of brushing things under carpet once the incident is over. Are we not in a habit of making promises to break? Moreover, these doctors are no better. Didn’t they pledge to serve in all situations, odd or even? Is their behavior not a systemic reflection? The public administration thinkers while theorizing clearly envisioned the insensitivity of the system. We are born hypocrites. Munnabhai movie was a big hit but Gandhigiri catches our attention only with a wish for others to follow. Our blood is always warm to the boiling point ready to evaporate on one provocation.

Of late, within a span of one-month doctors in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and now Delhi (Safdarjung hospital) have gone on strike. Let us hope that as torch of commonwealth games after traveling the nook and corner of country ended its journey in Delhi, so does this series of strikes end with this Safdarjung strike. Let the States (health being state subject) and Center take a concerted decision, if required with intervention of Judiciary, and ensure that there is no more occurrence, even if it calls for imposing ban on strikes by doctors, as it is for police. There have been enough deaths due to lackadaisical attitude of strikers and government without actually fixing accountability. If we can easily shirk from being accountable to deaths in our country, then fixing accountability for other misdemeanors like financial irregularity etc is a far cry.

Surprisingly, one thing in common in all cases of these sporadic calls of strike is that they were instigated by incidents involving individuals. A doctor facing wrath of some patient, their attendant or some incident outside hospital premises. The main agenda of striking doctors is seeking preventive mechanism put in place where the chances of human error of others (mind it, not theirs) is totally eradicated. They wish, whosoever comes in their contact should behave like robots, dancing to their tune, non-complaining, bereft of racing passions for their wards, vehicles having the sense to discriminate between doctors and other citizens in case of accidents (as in Bhopal) and the like. What a genuine demand it is. The expected rule is, people encountering doctors should be immune to their (doctors) misdeeds and they (doctors) misdoing with impunity, as the reality of ‘Human is to err’ is applicable only to them. I fail to understand how can one case of misbehavior with a doctor be threat to whole breed of doctors. Is it not a solace for them to analyze the ratio of their conflict to numbers of patients they attend, when the situation around is witnessing exponential rise of physical offence in the community. They still are most respected lot in the community. Let them not threaten this perception by foolish acts of overstressed youngsters.

When are we going to understand the importance of essential services? Is there any comparison between loss of more than sixty patients in Rajasthan and misbehavior with one doctor (an instigating factor). Is there need to orient doctors towards ‘patient-customer dealing’. No doubt, they have to have exceptional tolerance power. It may be hundredth patient for the doctor in that particular day but for the attendants of patient it is matter of life and death of his near and dear one, and for him at that moment world is limited to that patient. So, it is quite natural to have charged passions. I hope better sense will prevail and this ill thought of trend will come to an end, once and for all. A utopian wish though. Amen!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Plausible dimensions of naxalite surrender

Plausible dimensions of naxalite surrender

The news of a naxalite couple surrendering before Balaghat police ran for two days, in HT Live, Bhopal dated July 05 and July 06, 2010. The story said ‘disillusioned’ naxalite couple surrendered to police. Interestingly, the reason quoted for the man to join naxalite cadre was simple- disgruntled over misbehavior by an educational caretaker, followed by failed redressal at home. The man was a child, only 13, when he was inducted into the ranks of insurgents. On trying to read between the lines and analyzing the whole story, we can discern following dimensions.

First, the age of recruitment is alarming. It indicates the presence of child soldiers. The presence of child soldiers has been conspicuous in LTTE cadre, amongst Jihadis in Afghanistan, Liberia and many African countries, and other places, but not much mentioned about presence in Naxalites. Not that there has never been a concern, but to what extent is worrying. The recruitment of child soldiers in naxalite cadre may be basically through three methods. One- children are forcefully picked (can have trafficking perspective also) and trained to wage war against the State. Perhaps, through proper brain washing mechanism Stockholm syndrome is developed in these victims converting them into hardliners, and astute soldiers. Second- a well organized, planned campaign is resorted to with the help of well-wishing, sympathizing organizations, agencies and individuals having presence in tribal belts. They become the recruiting agencies or at the least counselors for recruitment. This is by selling the ideology. And, the last- a disgruntled child may run haywire due to falling system and try to find solace under their umbrella, which has already become a symbol of power and resource (as has been reported in this surrender case). Now it becomes important to ascertain the magnitude of hapless children within the rank and file of naxalites. At least the story has pointed at the tip of the iceberg. What method of engaging children is prevalent in a particular area depends on socio-economic conditions and availability of support system to the recruiting agency.

Second dimension of the story is that there are fissures in that dreaded organization. All is not well on that side. The disillusionment must be more in intensity than realized. Can that be exploited by the State agency for their benefit. Quite obviously, the naxalite set up must be having strict rules and regulations to follow. Already few reasons resulting in disenchanted was exposed in the story, like vasectomy, continuous living hardship, high threat perception etc. Can this daring act of the couple be replicated? The aspect of rehabilitation and publicizing the benefits on the other side of fence to the alienating members can make some inroads.

Third is the strength in our system of protecting the whistle blowers and witnesses. This case can be a litmus test for other rank holders to emulate. If the system gears up well and prepares a fool proof method to guarantee their safety, natural fallout will be increase in numbers of grounding weapons.

Fourth dimension, is a challenge to the local development agencies to take a cue and adopt corrective measures to stop drain of children. The story clearly depicts that running to their shelter is cake walk. They with open arms are welcoming into their cadres. One very important aspect in the story, which cannot be ignored is that leader of Dalam had counseled and given the option to carry on studies and join them later. This vividly reflects that they are exhibiting that humane part to win over mentally. Negligence of the State system will drift the community towards them more easily. It is and always was a struggle between the easy local influence and difficult government reach. It is simple to alienate from the State, for there are hundred loopholes, and if not can be projected as being there. Hence, the development agencies have double the task than their counterparts to grab attention and keep the humble tribals at their side.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Paid news"- deadly ramifications

After the fifteenth general elections to the Lok Sabha, in April-May 2009, one disturbing phenomenon of “paid news” came to fore, which entails payment by aspirant candidates to representatives of media companies for favourable coverage.

The inherent danger is that the reader of the publication or the viewer of the television programme fails to distinguish, if what comes to them is essentially an advertisement or independently produced news content. This is blatant corruption, undermining of democracy, fudging with facts and figures, threatening the transparency and ultimately exploiting the vulnerability of viewers/readers. This concept of “paid news” is not merely corruptive collusion of individual journalists and media companies, but with realization of its productive potential is has become all pervasive, structured and highly organized ‘crime’. Even, the Press Council of India has expressed serious concern over the issue. It has immediate twofold ramification, one it jeopardizes the functioning of an independent media in the country and second, it threatens the working of Indian democracy by influencing free and fair elections.

The press works on the principle of right to inform because the public has right to know. It is indubitable that the right of the public to accurate information must be protected. The judgment of a common person is highly influenced by what they see and hear. Unless explicitly mentioned, they take on the face value of news content. This vulnerability of the masses, in a country where still there is limited dexterity in deciphering the falsehood, is exploited in an organized manner. Does not that come under the ambit of crime? Who must be blamed when there is wrong choice of candidates in husting, due to misinformation, which would be reflected finally in the nation’s growth and development. Is just describing the “paid news” as unethical, unfair and an infringement of the right of journalists to report freely, enough. When this trend of “planting” information and views, in lieu of favours in kind and cash, has widespread and perilous consequence to the sovereignty of nation, then why not come out with some stringent act to penalize heavily on the colluding perpetrators.

I am wondering if the issue dies down its unnatural death, after some discussions in electronic media and articles in print. The agony is that to keep alive the issue we need the assistance of the team, which is actually neck deep into this lucrative trade. As citizens, how equipped we are to pick the cudgels and fight for our right is to be seen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Choice of course is not yours!

Was wondering, what should be my stand when I read the news related to the 21 deaths in Maoist infested Bijapur district, of Chattisgarh. The news in HT (24/06/2010) mentioned the diarrhoea deaths owing to drinking of contaminated water. The district administration had miserably failed to transport medical facilities to these remote areas due to poor road connectivity and Maoist insurgency. The district administration, shamelessly, even went to the extent of suggesting the poor tribals to drink rainwater as an alternative. Implicitly, it was admitted that providing immediate help was beyond their ken.

The question arises as to who should be blamed for this situation. Are the villagers paying the price for their own deeds of supporting the Maoist ideology, for providing them hideouts, giving logistical backup and safe passage to the naxalites. How much is the logic true that living under their shadow of terror, they have no other choice but to support these Maoists. Every now and then, threatening message is passed by cold-blooded murders of police informers.

So, should we let these villagers pay the price for their misdemeanour and left to the mercy of the Maoists, who promise to fight for their better future? Is it ethical on the part of the villagers to expect from the government to provide services of basic amenities at their doorstep, when they do not think twice before supporting heinous act like butchering of State’s armed forces?

In response to these instant surges of emotions, I realised that the most important aspect of the issue, which has been left out, is the duties and responsibilities of the “State” to prevent the human right violations and to provide security to its citizens at all cost. As a State, there is no room for bargain when it comes to delivering of services. The State by its very existence is duty bound to provide security and services. This responsibility is indisputable and cannot be shirked on any pretext.

The ongoing situation has revealed that one of the greatest challenges faced by the State in coming days is to re-establish the government institutions and strengthen the local governance, effectively promoting a sense of state ownership amongst the villagers and victims of conflict. Non-presence of State machinery will further alienate the masses and corroborate the claim of subversive groups. It will be loss-loss situation for the government. In fact, the genesis of the rebellious movement has been due to exploitation, and negligible outreach of the government’s projects.

Does not a casual remark, howsoever logically made, stokes the feeling of neglect? I think when there are forces working overtime to undo the States best practices, State machinery will have to tread very cautiously, taking into consideration the vulnerability of the target group. Every death due to laxity of the district administration will add to the score of Naxalites and toughen the situation for State.

(Priyanka and Veerendra)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do we have any share in road accidents

This summer, it seems all record of traffic accident deaths has been broken. In case of four and more wheeled casualties, the maximum victims have been either marriage partygoers or the pilgrims. Another contributor to the loss of lives has been two wheelers. The deaths due to murders is many times less than traffic accident deaths in our country, but surprisingly road accidents do not find enough attention as murders do, in the news. For a family death is a permanent loss to the family.

In my personal opinion, State’s responsibility lies more in case of traffic death than murder. In the former it is direct failure on part of the State to contain the cause of deaths, whereas in latter case, except for few situations where State has direct role to play in prevention, like in riots, protests etc, to proactively prevent personal vengeance motivated attacks is little dicey. Giving protection to all threatened individuals is not practically feasible, though on papers it may be claimed.

Some excerpt of an interesting study is given below to show the situation in our country.

In a dubious distinction for the country, the World Health Organization has revealed in its first ever Global Status Report on Road Safety that more people die in road accidents in India than anywhere else in the world, including the more populous China.

It said 90% of deaths on the world's roads occur in low and middle-income countries (21.5 and 19.5 per lakh of population, respectively) though they have just 48% of all registered vehicles.

At least 13 people die every hour in road accidents in the country, the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau reveals. In 2007, 1.14 lakh people in India lost their lives in road mishaps — that’s significantly higher than the 2006 road death figures in China, 89,455.

Road deaths in India registered a sharp 6.1% rise between 2006 and 2007. We don't have scientific traffic engineering. The report pointed to speeding, drinking-driving and low use of helmets, seat belts and child restraints in vehicles as the main contributing factors.

In 2004, road accidents was the top ninth cause of death in 2004. Calling road fatalities an "epidemic" that will become the world's fifth biggest killer by 2030, the report said.

Above report mentions that speeding, drinking-driving, low use of helmets, seatbelts and child restraints in vehicles as main contributing factors. All mentioned causes are never addressed in our driving skills. Does that mean that they are not part of the Motor Vehicle Act. The reality is that MVA is quite an exhaustive act. Sadly, the implementation, enforcement part is abysmally poor.

The basic traffic sense is missing amongst the vehicle drivers and other road users. There is no common rule to abide (as presumed). We think it is the duty of others to protect us. Neither we, as pedestrians, know how to walk on roads nor as drivers have any clue what rules of traffic act governs us.

I remember that when in Kosovo, my friend had grandly celebrated when she had got her driving license. She had failed two times before acquiring the license. It was mandatory to carry training certificate from driving school, pass written exam and then clear the road test. Even interview was part of the selection procedure. We make mockery of existing system in our country. For us our touts pass the procedures. We have to simply loosen our kitty and dole out fixed amount.

The major duty of KPS, Kosovo Police Service officers was vehicle checking. They checked the vehicle according to the act, right from license to availability of all accessories in the vehicle, which the act mentioned. That included smallest thing like tow rope, triangle red fluorescent signal to alert the passing vehicle when vehicle broke down etc. They were very strict in law enforcement. No driver above the alcohol limits was handed over the key back.

The report above clearly states that in western countries the death toll has come down over the years, where as we are showing constant growth. Is our enforcement agency ready and equipped to carry on the mandate of traffic rules. When I say ready and equipped it includes mindset, knowledge, logistics, morale, grit and honesty. I personally doubt it.

I also remember when some 13 odd children of the country (Kosovo) had died when their vehicle fell in a valley. The state had announced an official mourning. Yesterday, I was sarcastically kidding with my friend remembering that incident that if we start doing the same in our country, no State will be able to hoist their flags to full mast, ever.

Has our sensitivity died. Is this indifference a strategic move to cover up our weakness or despite all sincere efforts we have failed to civilize. Passing on the buck to any institution for this failure would be unethical. The truth is that those institutions too are manned by one of us. We are the victims, we are the perpetrators, we are the law makers and law enforcers too. No soul is going to come from heaven to put our house in order. We will have to take responsibility to educate and act. Let us pray together for the lost souls and ensure no more is lost.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Does number do magic for death

We are in a habit of crying on spilled milk. Proactive prevention has never been our forte. What our apathy may cost, in life, has been manifested in Bhopal Gas tragedy, but still we refuse to correct ourselves. The country is outraged over the governments and factory owners indifference and collusion, demanding for their neck. What has been the check-mate move of the activist is the number of casualty. Some casually remark as 15,000 life lost and some do not mind reporting 25000. The number variation is beyond logic.
Is the importance of life counted in numbers. We are so used to daily casualty figures in two digit numbers in newspapers that unless three digit figure appear it does not catch our attention. Ask the person who has lost his dear and near ones. Every death is death for a while of the whole family of five (average) and permanent damage to some in them. If given a try, it is damn tough task to help make one life worth living. But, hardly our heads turn twice on hearing death of one.

Todays news reported 'One more petrol pump caught fire in Bhopal'. Last year, luckily, major casualty was saved in an accident when one petrol pump had caught fire in the heart of city, next to busiest market of the capital. What precautions are we taking. When are the corrective agencies wake up to the call and ensure adherence to guidelines. It is an irony that Bhopal is reeling under protests against Gas tragedy verdict, and not much has been written against this accident. Let us not wait to gather only when numbers stimulate our senses. We want safe and quality life, and the concerned agencies is bound to give that to us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Repent-less murder

Yesterday, on 12 June, 2010, most of the newspaper in Bhopal carried a news about father hacking to death his five daughters. Today as follow-up to this heinous crime, it mentioned how the culprit-father remorselessly accepted the crime.. He claimed that in his dreams Lord Hanuman asked for sacrifice of his children, and the crime was in adherence to his command.
'The Week' few weeks back had carried a story about women being tormented for witchcraft...
Baba's are having field day, in flesh, money and material, under the garb of spiritual heroism.
Couple of years back, suddenly there was spurge in senior officers being drawn into transvestism in love with God....
In every action mentioned above, spirituality has been stretched to crime. The last example, as such, would not directly tantamount to crime, but I willing would like to tag it as crime because as civil servant, they made mockery of society, they failed to deliver to tax payers who are responsible for their salary, they violated the spirit of secularism of constitution by acting in public and divided the society into sectarian conflicts by personal action.

Over the years I have seen that our country has been deluged with spiritual guru's and their market is not affected by meltdown-recession in economy. With the increase in sense of insecurity in society, with shooting graph of crime, with rising corruption, and increase in unethical activities, desire for support from the almighty has increased. Materialism and spirituality, which sociologists would say do not go together, are flourishing in support, moving hand in hand, juxtaposed to each other.

It is high-time when new theory has to be evolved to explain the new trend. Can someone suggest how this perversion in the name of religion, spirituality can be controlled.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Canine v/s Humans: who is in danger


Canine v/s Humans: who is in danger

Bark, bark, bark, bark………….” The boys who had gathered for early morning game of soccer, suffering from world cup fever, ran helter-skelter to save from dogs, barking and occupying their space. It was struggle for dominance for couple of moments. The boys, recollected, picked a stone each and charged the dogs, to fly far into all corners of the ground of Char Imli, the residential area of the powerful in the capital, Bhopal. The poor dogs, some snarling putting meek opposition before retreating and rest dropping tail between legs, yielded to the human dominance and left the place. However, the eyes of vengeance shined in the dogs. I was wondering who actually owned the space when a dog, galloping breezed by, kissing my legs. I jumped three feet making a bridge for it to pass unbridled. I had found the answer. My sympathy towards the canine was lost with the gush of adrenalin in my body, by this sudden run over, concluded that we were in danger. Even morning walks, a must to diabetics, a prescription for all to keep fit in this competitive world, was at stake due to these ruthless dogs, who cared for none but themselves. We were in danger and something wants to be done to contain the dogs-I felt.

This compelled me to dig into my memories.

First came the recent statement of the Bhopal district administration, which advocated the vasectomy of the dogs, to check the growing population. I doubt if the statement has been transpired into action, yet.

Nevertheless, the flashback that followed put me in a foreign land, Kosovo, a country born from former Yugoslavia. I think what I am about to describe is going to be looked upon by animal lovers as vulgar and criminal act, but in Kosovo it was a normal feature and justified by authorities. Canine Culling in Kosovo was a full fledged operation initiated by the respective municipality in their Area of Responsibility (AOR). Stray dogs were considered as menace and police stations registered religiously all complaints and reports about the threat posed by stray dogs, to the kids in specific and community at large. Intermittently the calls used to pour in at police stations and the record of the cases registered was promptly sent to the municipality for action. There was a department within the municipality, which was responsible for killing those stray dogs and the logistical and expert assistance came from the hunting unit of municipality.

Police had an important role to play at all phases, right from the registration of complaints to implementation stage of killing. Regional police headquarter was given the information from the municipality about their decision, method to be adopted and the time of operation of killing of dogs. Every day in the morning chief of operation’s briefing incorporated precise description of area chosen for operation in the forthcoming days and about the dogs killed in previous night action. Before action, the affected area was informed through newspaper about the killing and police media liaison officer was responsible for proper dissemination of information to the public. All the concerned police stations were intimated about the operation plan and were vested with follow up duties. The reason for police getting involved was to ensure that there was no panic in the area on hearing gun shots in the darkness of night, as the country was strife torn and that the community was prepared mentally for the noise pollution in the mid night. Also it helped the citizens to save their pets by restricting them from loitering on the streets in the night, which otherwise could become an accidental prey of shooters.

One day in the meeting a dog menace complaint was mentioned. The complaint was that, a pet had barked at a passerby and even tried to bite him. To this impromptu came the decision of the regional commander, a German, that the municipality authorities should be directed to kill-shoot- the accused dog. We laughed taking it as joke but he was serious and directed his KPS (Kosovo Police Service) counterpart to take necessary action and report him about the compliance in next day’s morning briefing. He sounded like a judge giving verdict of capital punishment, to a criminal who had committed a crime of attempt to bite. Logic, the dog was a threat to mankind and beyond control of owner hence didn’t deserve to live.

The same time during my stay there, while chatting with my wife, I was told that our six-year-old son was bitten by a dog in India. It was in fact a pet and not a stray dog. Before I had left for Kosovo, he was attacked by a stray dog. We had moaned and got him injected and forgot it as an accident.

I think like today the stray dogs could be seen anywhere and everywhere. Dogs chasing two wheeler and bicycles are common feature and it doesn’t set any alarm ring. Even the statistics of more than 15 million, reported and treated, dog bites every year in our country do not tickle our grey matter. I don’t remember if ever, our ever alert municipality took pains to provide relief from the dogs. Our tolerance power had increased to such heights that we don’t get bothered by these trivial matters. They become part and parcel of our life and we adjust life style accordingly, expecting nothing from any department. The value of mankind is well below that of stray dogs. I think action against dogs may attract lot more flak and criticism from many corners than an attack on human beings or killing by dog. Some time back I had read in a newspaper that stray dogs had taken half the body of a new born baby from a government hospital. Still it is a common scene to find scores of dangerous canines wielding their ferocious teeth just outside maternity ward.

In two weeks action, in Prishtina (capital region), around 600 dogs were killed. On a discussion with some high ranking officer about the dog killing action, they justified it by saying that apart from direct threat of biting, dogs were also the cause of many accidents of fast moving vehicles on highways.

Few weeks back, I had heard Chief Medical Officers of districts complaining that the supply of medicines against dog-bite has run out of stock, due to excess flow of patients.

Now it is a subject of debate for us to ascertain, if it is our apathetic attitude; shirking from responsibility or we are too sensitive towards animals and insensitive towards our own mankind? I don’t recommend canine culling but is it not fare enough to adopt means to check the growing population of dogs, move them from residential area, make hospitals no-entry zone for them and reduce the threat to mankind. Let us not get violent against dogs, but please let us save our children and ourselves. Culling would is not advocated in any sense, but doing nothing is also not appreciated.

Well, all said and done…….. this is one part of the story. I as human being had the space and intelligence to put across my view. Do these pitiful dogs have any forum to complain? I wish I could understand their ‘bark’ as Dr Dolittle. Then objectively I would have discerned who is actually in danger.

Gassed again


Gassed again

The poisonous MIC (Methyl Isocyanite) gas is still looming large in the air of Bhopal. Will it not be correct to say that it has diffused into the atmosphere of the country? The verdict on the Union Carbide case has exhumed the buried corpses and put them back on road, alive, crying for justice. These lifeless bodies are further mutilated, pained by reality of our impotency to fight against the few, who master in manipulating and maneuvering situation to their gain. We as so called active citizens of this one of the largest democratic country, wail, yell, make our presence noticed and like always rest, for the next issue to wake us up.

In the recent past it has been the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, Senior policeman’s molestation case, Khap panchayats annihilating verdicts and many more which has provided the much needed fodder to charge us. There is no dearth of issues to keep us on the go, furnish us space in the newspaper coloumns, TV channels, road protests burning effigies, blocking traffic and pelting stones on hapless lower echelon policemen; and at the end of the day unwind sipping masala tea/coffee and mull over next move. I don’t say that our actions don’t hold water. They have left indelible impact on issues where our political masters have felt that it would help them reap a good crop. I don’t want to get into the dirty game of enlisting the cases, as that doesn’t need excellent intellectual rating to decipher. They are vividly written on the wall.

The question is what next. Are we going to bury again those woken up corpses, mummy them, after making ado about this sensitive issue. Or, would put flesh in those skeletal remains and punish all who have connived with perpetrators. Are we going to say straight, as Indian citizens that the tragedy is not a political issue to struggle for mileage. Let us clean our house and throw the garbage, irrespective of which room it comes from.

I helplessly, again as mute spectator, am sitting pondering, speculating, what lies ahead.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Facade of Honour Killing

Even today two cases of honour attack has been reported from Meerut. In one case the girl has been dead and in second she is recuperating in ICU. Pathetically, the perpetrator in both cases has been their father. The question is, if the honour killing is a fashion in vogue or have been existing ever since the existence of civilization. Has the media brought glaring societal anomaly to fore or just it is some crime, as any other, reported.
Whatever the cause and effect, means and end, the incidents of honour killing has highlighted the fact that we are still living in medieval age. We may boast of being technological leaders of the world, but honestly our mindset is still bitten by the rules of yesteryears. The Khap Panchayats, which has found support in many politicians, as expected for the vote bank, has grown in power after getting publicity. It has worked as a binding force, cutting across the region, state, language, caste and class boundaries. When the time was ripe for the government to take stern action, we find them dilly dallying, lest alienating the crucial vote bank.
I just wonder when we will grow beyond the short sightedness and think nationally. I think we have limited the definition of patriotism to shouting slogan "Jai Hind", or singing vandematram, or national anthem or saluting half-heartedly, perforce, the tri-colour. I pray we start thinking beyond this gestures.
Let everybody voice against the social evils and unite.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Request for article

Dear Friends,

We are planning to publish a book, a collection of articles on Trafficking of women and girls (children).

Trafficking in human beings is one of the most flourishing organized crime. Few studies in the past have revealed that Trafficking of human beings is prevalent in Madhya Pradesh, in all forms, but has failed to draw enough attention of either government or NGOs.

What has been the reason for Madhya Pradesh being left out, is beyond my comprehension. There are ‘n’ number of instances, highlighted by media and other sources, about how Madhya Pradesh is a place of origin, transit and destination. The question is how we can fight against this menace. I personally feel that we need a holistic approach, where the civil society, stakeholders, government agencies and the community at large, join hands to counter it. A concerted effort is only the answer to this problem. I think there is no point in playing blame game, passing on the buck on each other for the existing state of affairs. It is never late in starting intervention on such issues, as the problem keeps growing instead of diminishing.

I am of the opinion that learning and sharing experiences from across the country will help us understand the subject in a better way. It will widen our horizons, put us on common ground and help us in networking. Many factors, which perhaps must have been missed by one, will come to fore by the sharing with others. Ultimately, it will help us design a comprehensive plan, taking into consideration all the facts, to combat trafficking. If possible, we may chalk out a plan to reverse the nexus, breaking their network and establishing our own.

This book has multipronged objective. As mentioned earlier, the contributions will help us understand the subject in a better way. Secondly, case studies will educate us about the models in operation in various parts of country; enlighten us about the various success stories. Thirdly help us in networking with various agencies and field workers; fourthly a quality data bank and view point will be published which will be circulated to various agencies for sharing and finally will help us draw parallel, identify all forms of trafficking, correctly, and seek intervention in Madhya Pradesh.

We have successfully worked with CSE women of Bedia community (traditional CSW’s) in a village called Salai in Rajgarh District. We wish to carry forward our effort there. Besides, we are planning to focus on the issue of trafficking of tribal girls from tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh. An action plan is being formulated, and I hope that the articles will help us prepare it more objectively.

It will be encouraging and delightful to have contributions from committed, dedicated and passionate activist on this issue. I request you to invite contributions from all your field working friends. Let us join hands for a good cause.

We are planning to get the book published ASAP. It would be great if we can get the articles by the end of June. There is no upper word limit, as such. We are flexible to ensure that required space is assigned to explain the issue clearly. Though, we have lower word limit of two thousand five hundred (2500) words.

Please forward this mail to your friends and request them on my behalf to contribute their share of work. I heartily appreciate, in advance, for their efforts.

Just to introduce myself. I am police officer from Madhya Pradesh. I had a short story book published last year “Cracking of dawn” which was women centric. Couple of stories do mention about the plight of women of Kanjar and Bedia community. My book “Community Policing: Misnomer or Fact” is on the publisher’s desk for review. The subject of my PhD was on ‘Changing Image of Police: an empirical study’, which focused on the changing role of police and need for community participation in combating crime. One of my novel is on the editing table. On the issue of trafficking, I have been presenting papers and lecturing for quite some time. I think with my writing and academic background I will be able to do justice in editing this book and hope a quality informative product will be the outcome. We also plan to have some experts on the editing table to do the needful.



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bahut Garmi Hai

Going for morning walk is routine start of my day. “Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t do this, don’t, don’t…..” is what every child goes through since childhood. These don’ts are for simple reason, “addiction”. As a normal, obedient child, I too believed in those preaching, and consequently kept at bay all these so-called social vices.

How do we describe addiction? Anything, without which, we become unstable, for which we yearn badly, absence would stimulate unnecessary mood oscillation, affect body metabolism and to meet the addiction we do anything. I think this suffices layman’s quest for definition. Despite all my precautions, I miserably failed. I got addicted. I was addicted to morning walk. I suffered from all the symptoms mentioned above, if I failed to go for morning walk.

I browse through newspaper headlines before I step out of my home. I think most of the people do the same. The headlines indicated, Madhya Pradesh was inferno. The temperature had broken all records and reached 46 degree centigrade. It was 30+ in the early hours of morning itself. Maximum minimum temperature recorded, was another headline. The newspaper has a great say in swaying the topics of discussion for morning walkers. Today, quite pertinently, Lord Sun grabbed the attention.

Immediately after getting out of the gate I found two people greeting each other with folded hands, but instead of wishing ‘Namaskar’, ‘Ram ram’, ‘Good morning’, ‘Hari om’(as my milk vendor would do), they greeted “Bahut Garmi Hai”. Very casually, I appreciated the remark, passed a quite smile, acknowledging their knowledge on rising temperature and moved on. But, today that was not the end. As I moved forward, I found that in maximum cases, the usual greeting had been replaced by this phrase “Bahut Garmi Hai”. The walkers would start with that greeting and continue on the issue of heat for some time.

One of the very interesting observation of my wife, about men, was that there were three main topics of discussion among men, while walking- politics, money and women. I had quite closely followed it and my research had corroborated her observation. Politics could be office politics, real politics, or any other, but that majored the topic of discussion. Women being top among the close buddies of all age and youngsters. Money was cutting across age, religion, caste and class. However, today it was belied… “Bahut Garmi Hai”, had beaten all the topics on all fronts. So friends, “Bahut Garmi Hai, kuch karo yaar”.

Forged Passport-A sensitive issue

Forged passports make identification messier’ was the headline in Pioneer-May 25, 2010. At least ten victims had travelled by the Air India Express flight from Dubai to Manglore on forged passports, it read. The article was dedicated to the mess occurring due to failure in identifying the real victims, as they carried forged passport. A statement from local agent said that in and around Mangalore, forging passport for travel was a normal thing, but the magnitude did baffle him, 10 out of 160. From South India, Kerala in particular, traveling to Gulf on forged passport was rampant, is what could be perceived, from that piece of news.

Now, the issue is, are we just restricting the news to messier situation developed in distribution of compensation. If I recall well, very recently, hardly a month back, there was news mentioning Kerala as hotbed, breeding ground, for terrorists. There had been major link between big terrorist activities and Kerala. Gulf countries being main conduit for money swindling, movement of terrorist heads and other illegal activities is a well known fact. I don’t believe that intelligence units of the state and country had failed to comprehend the situation in the past. What I feel is that if the issue is highlighted, brought into the notice of common man, it will ring a bell of caution, and the perpetrators will be defensive and mass alert. I haven’t heard any news recently of any crackdown on the passport issue. That means nothing concrete has been done, as such. Let the community be educated, alerted, called to contribute in checking the menace, which has far-reaching ramifications, than what is visible in print.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Movement against trafficking in Madhya Pradesh


Trafficking of persons is a modern-day form of slavery, threatening the dignity and security of millions of people throughout the world. UN General Secretary Kofi Annan has noted "Slavery was, in a very real sense, the first international human rights issue to come to the fore. It led to the adoption of the first human rights laws and to the creation of the first human rights non-governmental organization. And yet despite the efforts of the international community to combat this abhorrent practice, it is still widely prevalent in all its insidious forms, old and new. The list is painfully long and includes traditional chattel slavery; bonded labour; serfdom; and forced labour, including of children, women and migrants, and often for the purpose of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and ritualistic and religious reasons.


Human Trafficking per se has never been a subject of aggressive debate in India. If at all there has been any deliberation it has been restricted to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) of communities such as Bedia and Bachara tribes living in certain pockets of Madhya Pradesh (Mandsaur, Ratlam, Sagar, Morena etc). The famous research book of Mr. P M Nair on trafficking in India has also not positioned Madhya Pradesh (except for few references) on the map of trafficking. Does that infer that MP is a safe place, untouched by the problem of trafficking? Facts point it otherwise. Madhya Pradesh is a potential source, transit and destination place of trafficking. The recent investigative reports of journalists have vividly shown that Madhya Pradesh is haven for the traffickers for its economic backwardness and other compulsions.

When we speak of Madhya Pradesh as place of source, transit and destination for trafficking, it becomes obligatory to justify the statement. In a nutshell we will try to comprehend the situation prevailing.

Source: Madhya Pradesh has been a place of supply of girls to the traffickers from Bedia and Bachara community for CSE, since long. In fact some study depicted that a considerable section of bar girls operating in Mumbai belonged to this community.

Transit: In the NGO Prernas’ publications on trafficking, they reported some survey claiming a sizeable number (in thousands) of girls being trafficked every year from Nepal and Bangladesh to Mumbai. It is logically understood that these girls cannot be airborne to Mumbai but have to cross MP which is on route to Mumbai from the above said source places. This clearly illustrates the situation of MP as transit place.

Destination: Due to skewed sex ratio in certain sections of society, girls have been trafficked to be married. Workers have also been trafficked from tribal and rural areas to urban centers or to owners of mines and brick kilns for cheap labour.

New Dimension: Recently a new chapter on trafficking of children from tribal areas has added into the annals of MP. In a Special Report- “Where is my daughter”, published in the National Weekly Magazine “The Week”, 10 September 2006 issue, it was reported that more than 5000 tribal girls were trafficked from tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh (Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori, Siwni). Around 500 children were trafficked from some villages of few police stations of Mandla district alone. This data they claim to be under reported and the situation is graver than we can comprehend. It was revealed that the majority of girls trafficked were minor on the pretext of being enrolled for domestic help by the agencies in Delhi and other places. The subsequent tyranny of the girls trafficked was a mystery for majority of parents. The pathetic part of the story is that despite seeing their neighbours plight these honest and modest tribal people are still falling prey to the allurements of the traffickers and children are being trafficked relentlessly, unabated.

Tribals are placed at the marginal end of development and hence are vulnerable to outside exploitation. Education is not up to the mark and those who are little educated imagine a greener pasture far from their traditional hamlets. Their susceptibility encourages the exploiters to victimize them.

Level of Operation required

work will have to aim on the issue of human trafficking at multiple levels.

1. Research and Documentation (Assess the ground situation)

§ The objective of research on the subject mentioned above would be to document the situation prevailing in the tribal areas of three districts-Balaghat, Dindori and Mandla. The socio-cultural and economic causes would be studied.

§ The role of law in dealing with this menace would be underlined and prospective mechanism to check the problem highlighted.

§ This study would be an aid to the agencies willing to come up with some projects to tackle this problem.

2. Work with the victims

§ Work concertedly towards tracing the victims. Towards this an inter-state network will need to be developed.

    • Involve police and sympathetic organisation in the rehabilitation of victims.
    • Educate and empower victims to rebuild their lives.

3. Work with communities

§ Develop an information campaign for the communities most affected by the menace of trafficking.

§ Build support groups to avoid trafficking as well as for re-integration of victims in community.

War of Languages in East Timor

Timor with a total area of 15,007 sq kms, is less than 400 km north of Australia, separated from that continent by the Timor Sea. To the northwest lie the Indonesian islands separated by as little as 50 km by the Sawu Sea, while in the northeast the Indonesian islands are separated by Wetar Strait, only 18km away from Atauro, one of the islands of Timor Leste (East Timor). Timor is a part of Australian continental shelf.

East Timor or Timor Leste is a new country with tumultuous past. As any new born country would have, Timor Leste is also facing the challenges of transition into freedom. It has a short history of seven years of independence nurturing under the umbrella of United Nations, which has been existing since 1999 in one or the other form. The UNMIT mission still continues.

The constitution of Timor Leste accepts Tetum (local) and Portuguese as the two official languages. English and Bahasa (Indonesian) have been acknowledged as working languages. It makes a very simple reading on paper, but in actuality the situation in Timor Leste has become volatile and explosive creating a chaos everywhere just because of the preference of specific languages as working and official. There is hardship faced in disbursing of official business and operational work. There is lot of uncertainty about the choice of medium of instruction in meetings; imparting education in schools, universities; conducting workshops, seminar; and consequently there is fallout on daily life. There is indecisiveness amongst the youth about the language they should focus on to build their career. The intellectuals of the country have been questioning the plausibility of the choice of language as official. There had been discussions in the past over the correctness of decision but now it has become an obscure movement questioning the very loyalty of the decision makers towards the country. This uneasiness amongst the intellectuals and discomfort of a common man is a matter of concern and is what bothers. How serious is that concern needs to be examined by understanding the history a bit and the situation prevailing in Timor Leste.


Timor had been a source of sandalwood, honey and wax for Chinese traders since at least the 1300s. The first Portuguese traders reached Timor around 1509 and gradually expanded their influence and made it a full-fledged colony. The process of decolonisation of Timor began in 1974, in the wake of Portugal’s “Carnation Revolution”. East Timorese were given freedom to form their own political parties. The two most prominent parties were Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) and the pro-independence Revolutionary Front for an Independent Timor-Leste (FRETILIN). The former supported gradual independence as well as association with Portugal, and the latter called for full independence. Portugal sought to establish a provisional government and a popular assembly that would determine the status of Timor-Leste, but civil war broke out between the two main political parties and FRETILIN was left with control of Timor-Leste. A unilateral declaration of independence followed on 28 November 1975. Before the declaration could be internationally recognised, however, Indonesian forces invaded and annexed the newly born Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste (RDTL) by making it twenty seventh Indonesian province. Some 60,000 people are believed to have died during the initial period of the invasion.

The UN never recognized this integration, and both the Security Council and the General Assembly called for Indonesia’s withdrawal. Timor-Leste’s official international status remained that of a “non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration”. FALINTIL, the military arm of FRETILIN, began its guerrilla campaign against the Indonesian forces.

Indonesian rule in Timor-Leste was violent and dictatorial though unlike the Portuguese, favoured strong, direct rule, which was not accepted by the Timorese who were determined to preserve their culture and national identity. Death tolls between 1975 and the early 1980s due to a combination of attacks on civilian population, disease and famine went upto two lakh. In an effort to obtain greater control over its descendants new province Indonesia invested considerable financial resources in Timor-Leste, leading to economic growth averaging 6% per year over the period 1983 to 1997.

In May 5, 1999, UN brokered agreement with Portugal to hold a referendum or “popular consultation” on the options of autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. Despite a sustained intimidation campaign launched by the Indonesian military using “militia” as proxy, on 30 August 1999, the Timorese population voted overwhelmingly for independence (78.5%). The Indonesian armed forces and their militia responded with extra ordinary brutality. The entire territory was laid waste-some 80% of buildings were looted and burned, all government records were lost, and most of the physical structure was destroyed. One third of the population was forcibly displaced to West Timor and other neighboring islands. The rest of the population sought refuge in the mountains.

Independence came, officially, on 20 May 2002 with the inauguration of President and Prime Minister.

UNs Presence

United Nations since agreement signed on 5 May 1999 in New York has remained in Timor-Leste in different forms.

On 11 June 1999, United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNAMET) came into existence to conduct “Popular Consultation”, a referendum to choose between Independence and autonomy under Indonesia. After that on 25 October, the Security Council established the United Nations Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste (UNTAET) as an integrated, multidimensional peacekeeping operation fully responsible for the administration of Timor-Leste during its transition to independence. When Timor-Leste’s independence was restored on 20 May 2002, UNTAET was succeeded by the United Nations Mission of Support in Timor-Leste (UNMISET) established on 17 May 2002 to provide assistance to core administrative structures critical to the viability and political stability of the country and other mandates for post independence support.

The mandate of UNMISET completed in May 2005 and a successor political mission, the United Nations office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), came into force on 20 May 2005 to support the development of critical State institutions. UNOTIL was scheduled to end its mandate in 2006. However, due to fresh violence and disturbance including assassination bids on President and Prime Minister, On 25 August 2006, United Nations decided to establish the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) to maintain law and order until the national police of Timor Leste (PNTL) could undergo reorganization and restructuring. If the hearsay is to be believed then UNMIT will wind up its mission by 2012.

Language situation

With brief knowledge of history, it will be easy to comprehend the prevailing complexity of languages.

The Portuguese during their colonial rule adopted Tetum as working language, one of the twenty odd local languages of East Timor, along with Portuguese. Tetum spread all over the country with almost 60% of people speaking it and 80% of area covered. Portuguese became an official language but literally understood only to those who had been part of education system or in job. Portuguese adopted a policy of non-interference and education system was not very much developed. Even the propagation of Christianity was in local language, Tetum. Therefore, only those who had been either to schools, colleges or in job under Portuguese, before 1975, knew Portuguese. Tetum however remained the most popular language.

Once Indonesian army took over in 1975, Portuguese language went into oblivion. Indonesians who believed in direct control introduced Bahasa (Indonesian language), though Tetum still continued as popular language. The educational system was developed, institutions established, and Bahasa became a medium of instruction. More East Timorese went to university in Indonesia era than pre 1975 period. Due to their direct involvement Bahasa became a very popular language and almost everybody started speaking and understanding the language. It is estimated that 60% of the East Timorese speak Bahasa. During the Indonesian tyrannical rule almost one third of the country’s population got killed. In the twenty four years of constant war for independence most of the rebels died who belonged to the Portuguese era. A new generation, which grew to become youth, belonged to Bahasa epoch. Portuguese as a language virtually had become a history for most.

In 1999 with the advent of UN mission, English became an official language of operation. It was an English speaking mission. The youth understood the charm of English and they started learning the language, which became an instant hope of employment. The Australian influence on Timor can also not be discounted. The English movies are very popular here and the mass unemployed youth whose passion is to play guitar can be found playing and singing either Bahasa or English songs. Though proper and very reliable census is not available, according to available statistics more than 70% of the population is youth, and average age of Timor Leste is less than twenty, which is more inclined to learn English than Portuguese. Every fifth youth can be seen trying hard to utter few English words to catch attention of the international in this UN Mission area.

The constitutional position

Timor Leste’s Constitution accepts Portuguese and Tetum as official languages and English is the working language. This choice of Portuguese as official language has instigated lot of debate. Here it will be relevant to enumerate the pros and cons, as discussed, for giving Portuguese a constitutional position.

In favour of Portuguese

The clique espousing Portuguese has their own grounds of justification

· Most of the Ex-Portugal colony nations are having Portuguese as one of their official language like in Angola, Mozambique and Brazil. Therefore, it was a natural consequence of decolonolisation, to adopt Portuguese as official language.

· East Timor has a history of Portugal influence for more than five hundred years, since it landed sometime in 1509. The influence still prevails over culture and acceptance of language only fortifies it.

· Portuguese was the language besides Tetum during their rule for centuries. It is argued that Portuguese language will help the youth to understand the history and struggle of East Timor

· Despite the Indonesian annexation, East Timor was considered internationally as, “non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration”, so the umbilical cord was never severed. The importance is inferred by the fact that UN included Portugal besides Indonesia in the process of brokering for establishing peace, which ultimately resulted in “Popular Consultation” and Independence.

· Along with language, East Timor is adopting Portugal educational system, which will harmonize the development with Europe.

· Portugal will open the gates of Europe to Timor Leste. The citizens will get Portuguese passport which will help free entry into Europe

· Timor Leste still owes to Portugal because they were the first to make appearance to salvage Timor Leste, as biggest donors, when Indonesian’s left after onslaught in 1999, following ‘Popular Consultation”.

Official Position

The President of East Timor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mr. Ramos Horta during a dialogue with students at the Timor-Leste National University, in Dili, on 03 Aug 2009, commented that students should not consider Portuguese language, which is being used in the country as a new colonial language in Timor-Leste. He stressed that Portuguese language was based on historical identity of Timor-Leste and said the Tetum language still needed to adopt many words from the Portuguese language. He further added that Timorese people should be proud, as many people in the country were mastering many languages. He added that it was necessary for the Government to really use Indonesian language [Bahasa Indonesia] and English as working languages in the country.

In opposition to Portuguese and an alternate theory

· Portuguese is no more a popular language and passed away to oblivion, now known to a few. There will be problem in official business because of dearth of knowledge of the language.

· During Portuguese era only the educated elite and few others spoke Portuguese (around 15% of population) and at the time of independence after 25 years of Indonesian governance the percentage declined to less than 5% and they were principally elders.

· Portuguese being alien to the youth it will take minimum seven to ten years before the youth will be prepared to use the language, the way it is desired. So virtually it means putting hurdles in the development for almost a decade, just because of wrong choice of language, at the time when it is expected for them to take a flying start.

· Clinging to colonial legacy and emotional decisions which may jeopardize development is not a mature decision and contrary to rules of diplomacy

· Tetum, the only language common to all eras is very limited language. The language has only seven thousand words to its vocabulary and the grammar is not developed. Sometimes it becomes very difficult to articulate things as desired in Tetum and the expression is very confusing.

· So both Tetum and Portuguese languages have their own strong limitations which cannot be overlooked.

· English is presumed to be more popular and acceptable by the youth, which constitutes more than 70% of the population.

· Now by making Portuguese a mandatory language in school with Tetum, children are forced to learn three languages minimum; Tetum, Portuguese and English. English is a language of choice of youth. This had overburdened the youth and confused them.

· Bahasa is known to youth and Indonesia being a neighbouring country, Bahasa can be a better choice.

· The door to outer world is IT- access of internet by the youth is in Bahasa language and by some in English.

· When weighed with other languages like Bahasa and English the stakes of Portuguese language is considerably poor.

Why Bahasa or English

· Bahasa is the first choice of language for following reasons.

Ø The call of the day for Timor Leste is to have strong ties with ASEAN countries than trying to woo Europe which is far off land with having nothing in common. Bahasa is the language of communication with all countries neighbouring Timor Leste. It is spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, a bit of Thailand and the like.

Ø The ASEAN countries have exemplary success story to be emulated rather than looking towards Europe which has a totally different culture.

Ø It is estimated that 60% of the East Timorese speak Bahasa and particularly the youth is very comfortable with the language, for it being the medium of instruction in schools during the 25 years Indonesian regime.

Ø 70% of the population being youth and they having knowledge of Bahasa it naturally becomes the first choice. The youth speak this language with love and comfort.

· If Bahasa is discarded by the government due to Indonesian past brutality, then English becomes the second choice for following reasons:

Ø Here the primary factor is the Employment .I have interviewed 50 Timorese boys and girls studying in the university. They prefer learning English to Portuguese. It is looked upon as gateway to employement; in UN agencies, UN and other international NGOs or an opportunity to immigrate outside.

Ø it is internationally accepted language

Ø Timor Leste has strong economic ties with English speaking Australia. Even the main economy of the country i.e. oil and natural gas is being explored by Australia.

Ø Due to presence of UN for almost ten years, English has almost become an undeclared operational language and even the constitution speaks about English being official language.

Ø If at all a new language has to be learnt by the youth then it is always preferable to learn English which is a language of communication across the world and choice of youth. English would open the floodgates of interaction with external world.

Popular opinion

To get a general opinion of the public, particularly on the issue of choice of official language, I talked with around hundred and ten people in Dili, the capital of the country, and Bacau, the second largest town of East Timor (short verbal interview with respondents). They both are the only developed cities of East Timor. 75% of the persons interacted with on the language subject were from Dili. The reason being Dili is the only place in East Timor with universities and other developed educational institutions. 20% of the population of East Timor (Country’s population is around 10 lakh) is in Dili (including floating population), though it occupies hardly any percentage of geographical area of the country. It is surprising to note that more than 70% of vehicles of the country are running on the roads of Dili. Majority of the offices of the Government, United Nations and its agencies, NGOs and other institutions are located in Dili. Despite Bacau being the second biggest and developed city of East Timor there is wide gap in comparison to the capital. This justifies for choosing majority of respondents from Dili.

80% of the selected respondents were youth, below thirty years of age. This was in proportion to the average age of people in Timor. Equal number of males and females were chosen. According to the opinion around 93% of the youth, cutting across the sex, wanted English or Bahasa to be official language. English because it will help them and Bahasa because they knew it. They did not speak Portuguese. Only 2% agreed on Portuguese and rest did not wish to respond. Amongst the 20% elderly respondents only 6% could speak Portuguese. 13% of them thought English would be good for new generation and equally opined Bahasa is language known to youth. Portuguese had historical importance to them.

Serious allegations

A certain group of intellectual who argue on the basis of above mentioned points against the acceptance of Portuguese as official language have further some very serious accusations to make, though in hushed voice and off the record. This is the statement which has all potential to cause a storm in the cup. This intellectual group, (with whom I had lively discussion and have been source of information to me, but who categorically wished to be unquoted) indict the constitutional and executive heads of having vested interest in adopting Portuguese as official language. They blame that the politicians at the helm of affairs have some Portuguese blood in them. Through either of the lineage, paternal or maternal, they are mixed descendants of Portuguese. This mixed people who are called as Mistiço by locals were the blue eyed boys of the Portuguese before Indonesian invasion and have still managed to bag the power by manipulating international support. For all the privileges of the past and present they are now trying to pay back. In fact this dissident group goes to the extent of alleging that influential Mistiço is having some sort of clandestine understanding with the Portugal government to provide them safe passage and political asylum in case of any untoward happening.


The youth of East Timor are in dilemma now. Bahasa plays an important role in the region. English has its own importance as International Language. The knowledge of English is immediately providing them jobs in this poverty stricken country where job opportunities are seldom available.

The view of politically motivated acceptance of constitutional language is finding more buyers now and the disgruntled faction of intellectuals have even started discussing of forming a political group which when time comes would attempt to grab the power. They claim to be organizing themselves and wish to come to power once the UN withdraws; the tentative year speculated is 2012. They opine that it will be a ‘popular movement’ as there is common discomfort over the choice of language. Now the million dollar question is what is going to be the mode of political upheaval, a democratic one through hustings or a coup? Can acknowledgment of Portuguese as official language have such dangerous ramifications? Is there any possibility of endangering the tranquility of a nascent country, the youngest democracy, which still has to come to terms with peace? Does this so-called ‘popular movement’ connote to looming civil disturbance or a crusade? How serious is the problem? It needs to be examined and analyzed at the earliest before it is too late. There has been precedence of countries being carved on the basis of language, Bangladesh being one….