Edits In Short: December 26
The Hindu, December 26, 2012
Primary Neglect – Editorial
Thanks to the large number of unfilled vacancies in our Primary Health Centers (PHCs), providing universal health coverage in India is going to be a major challenge states this edit. “A well functioning health system should have at least 23 health workers per 10,000 people, while the statistic for India is 19.” And even this statistic is not uniform across India.
The edit lists out the states where the situation is pathetic, and vacancies are up to 71% in PHCs. “Many more medical and nursing colleges and institutions for health worker training should be opened on a war footing.”
Pakistan’s battle against polio, the edit states, is a reflection of the nation’s struggle with itself, “only its existential fight is more crippling.” While Pakistan had made great headway in reducing new cases of polio in 2005, the figure jumped up by 2011.
The campaign suffered a setback when it was discovered that a doctor in the anti-polio programme had helped track down Osama bin Laden’s hideout for the CIA. Earlier this year, the Taliban had warned that there would be a ban on the anti-polio drive in North Waziristan till US drone attacks didn’t stop. Add to that, last week’s killing of nine polio health workers.
“That the conspiratorial canard against something as essential as the polio drop has spread so wide despite the government roping in clerics and ‘brotherly’ Saudi Arabia to sanctify it is instructive.” The counter-offensive it warns, has to be multifaceted because the enemy has developed an ability to reincarnate itself in various forms and in places least expected.
The temptation of anarchy – Main Article
Harish Khare, political analyst and former media adviser to PM Manmohan Singh, writes – “There is a heady feeling in the air that we have a licence to defy and disrupt, and force our rulers to make concessions on our terms.”
Although he writes that there was “gruesome brutalization and rape of a 23 year old woman” and that “political leaders and parties have vacated the ramparts of moral respectability”, he laments that “once the polity and its authorized executives panicked over a televised fast at Ram Leela grounds and agreed to sit across the table with ‘civil society’ to frame laws, an unhappy precedent was set.”
Words and phrases like, “disrupt”, “defy”, “orgy of revulsion”, “connoisseurs of chaos” find lots of space in this article that eventually leads to the conclusion that “it is imperative that our leaders do not panic into conceding too much to the ‘anger’” and, “citizens have a collective obligation to see that the excesses of democracy do not drown the Indian state and its already frayed capacity to produce wholesome order.”
Old Adversaries in new face-off – Op-Ed
A must-read article on the forgotten Punjab war on terror. Chander Suta Dogra writes that the acrimony between the Punjab police and the judiciary is increasing now that the prominent trials against policemen and Khalistan militants are culminating in the courts. “And with each acquittal and dismissal, the role of the judges is coming under scrutiny”.
In 1997, KPS Gill wrote to the then-prime minister IK Gujral – “What is to be said of judges who failed to administer justice according to the laws of the land for over a decade in terrorist related cases.”
Over 1700 policemen died while fighting terrorism and scores of cases were registered against them for human rights violations. But lean sentences for terrorists, and cases like Taran Taran’s SSP who committed suicide following a case of extra-judicial killing against him, have angered the Punjab police.
Last December, the Supreme Court in a plea by a Punjab police officer put down in writing that “The path chartered by the High Court inevitably reflects a biased approach. It was a misplaced sympathy for a cause that can be termed as being inconsistent to the legal framework.”
The times may be saner writes Dogra, but the finger-pointing is just as vicious.
The Hindustan Times, December 26, 2012
Friends only in official circles – Editorial
India’s relationship with Russia right now is much like India’s relationship with the Soviet Union was. New Delhi buys Russian nuclear plants, heavy machinery and weapons while India Inc finds Russia a difficult place to do business, tourists hardly go there and for students it’s a last resort. Post-liberalisation, the edit states, Indians know Russia largely as a type of salad!
For things to improve “there have to be both common interests at the State level and a comfort factor at the civil level. India and Russia continue to struggle with the latter part of the equation.”
Get the basics right – Main article
Harsh Mander, Director, Centre for Equity Studies, pens another article on the recent rape case. “It’s not by threatening rapists with death that violence against women will end. We need to ensure that gender equality becomes a way of life.”
He writes that the death penalty is fundamentally wrong. What we need are police reforms in investigation and prosecution and judicial reforms. “We also need to turn the torchlight within…and reflect as a people about the ways we bring up our boys and men, discouraging their gentler nurturing instincts and teaching them to be aggressive, dominating, violent, and disrespectful of women and girls.”
The Indian Express, December 26, 2012
Two-minute solutions – Editorial
The edit states that the solutions demanded by the India Gate protestors against sexual violence are excessive, and TV news has contributed to an “illiberal clamour”. It also lists UPA’s faulty communication mechanisms, attributing it to the “peculiar way authority is structured in the UPA”. In the end, the edit blames both an “aloof state” and an “impatient and immoderate” media and civil society for the lack of a thorough look at sexual violence. Oh and yes, gives no solutions of its own.
Cricket minus noise – Editorial
The edit comments on the lack of the usual sound and fury surrounding Indo-Pak cricket matches, but hastens to add that this doesn’t mean that players of the two teams have lost their “zing”. It is just that they have mellowed and are focusing on the game rather than the peripheral rhetoric.
Rage and helplessness – Main Article
Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes about the Delhi protests and the two types of anxiety he says it’s generating. First, that the establishment – feeling unsettled – is responding with the language of order. Second, that the movement is misdirecting its anger to the government and not to a deeper social malaise. Mehta agrees with the second critique. He also agrees that one of the reasons for that is that traditional structures of family and religion have lost their authority.
Yet, he also writes that “our political system is not geared up for the idea that serious moral conversation will have an element of public mobilization”. And states that the protest is not just about rape, but a “largely justified” contempt of the State. Mehta also questions the role of the politician, and writes that our politicians have a deep disconnect and an “absence of common decency”, which is resulting in anti-political politics.
“We are in a peculiar position where the state positioned itself as a vanguard, and then got lots in its own pathologies”. Statism has been bestowed on us by the state.
The Times of India, December 26, 2012
Seize The Opportunity – Editorial
TOI through this edit seems to have taken on the role of the Congress-revitalising committee. It states that the victory in Himachal Pradesh will see the Congress “build some positive electoral capital at state and national levels”. Himachal, the edit states, can help Congress in this respect because of its excellent social indicators, robust rural health infrastructure and a high literacy rate of 84%. Nor does Congress have “quarrelsome coalition partners to tie it down.”
It ends by pointing out that in two months the Congress will present its last budget, and shouldn’t transfer additional burdens on people and keep fiscal deficits down. It’s not too late for the Congress to refurbish its image!
Anyone listening to the advice?
Egypt At Crossroads – Editorial
This edit laments that Egypt’s political turmoil seems likely to endure, and it exposes “the deep polarization in Egyptian polity and society”. The draft charter that does little to protect human rights and safeguard the interests of religious minorities and women is being rushed through in spite of opposition from various parties.
Morsi and his supporters “would do well to distinguish between a majoritarian democracy and a liberal democracy”.
Read Full article:
No country for Women – Main Article
In one of the most intelligent pieces on the recent rape, Swagato Ganguly, Senior Editor TOI, writes that sexual crimes in India committed publicly and with all fearlessness represent a social and sexual churning which the archaic administrative and political systems are unable to cope with.
In a city like Delhi where facilities provided to policemen are poor and keep degrading and they’re expected to pay for fuel from their meager salaries, how can they not turn out corrupt, brutal, negligent or sexist?
Also, with a middle class on the cusp of modernity where young people learn more than their fathers, and women (the standard bearers of tradition) earn as much as men and exercise choice and autonomy, social hierarchies are unsettled and the scene is set for a traditional and patriarchal backlash.
“Instead of keeping up our ambivalence about modernity…we need to see security as an essential element of infrastructure and development planning.”