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Need for aggressive stand against extremism in N-E

The jawans of Assam Rifles in Manipur have been ambushed and three of them martyred in the same Chandel district in which the militants had launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army convoy in June 2015, killing 18 of our soldiers. It is clear from the latest attack that the militants have started raising their ugly head and are reasserting their defiance to such an extent that they can now dare to attack the Indian security forces.
The threat of further attacks by militants in the North-Eastern states and the unrest there had started to loom large the moment Chinese incursions started in the Ladakh region. China is the biggest supporter of militants in the North-Eastern states and the sole purpose of creating unrest there is to not let India shift the Army stationed there anywhere else! This move of China was further confirmed in the last week of June 2020 when a huge cache of arms was caught at the Thailand-Myanmar border. All the weapons were made in China. Prima facie, it seemed that the weapons were meant for the Myanmar terrorist outfit called Arakan Army, which China keeps aiding and abetting but the experts later confirmed that the Arakan Army does not use such weapons. Through the Arakan Army, this cache of arms was being sent to the militants of the North-Eastern states in India. Militant groups in Myanmar and India work in tandem. However, India has also sought information from the Thailand government regarding the stockpile of arms and requested it to provide a detailed investigation report. Our intelligence agencies are at work too.
Though this stockpile has been seized, would China not have already delivered such arms cache before, is the moot question. There is nothing to suspect otherwise. In fact, one route to deliver a consignment of Chinese weapons in North-East India is from Myanmar, where many militant groups have links with terrorist groups in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal and Tripura. The other route is from Bangladesh. The Netherlands-based think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) has categorically stated in its report that China is continuously engaged in fomenting tension in India. It is arming the rebels of Myanmar to stand against India. Many militant outfits in the North-East have taken refuge in Myanmar. They cross the border, carry out attacks here and go back to Myanmar with impunity. India shares good relations with the government there, but the problem is that the terrain is inaccessible and the militants hide in the forests and mountains. Many a time, the armies of India and Myanmar carry out joint operations but the network of militants is very strong, and China too may be informing them about all the activities. So they escape.
So naturally, the question is what kind of strategy which could prove effective against extremism in the North-Eastern states should be adopted. The administrative machinery has been strengthened and development brought about in the region, thanks to the efforts made by the previous Congress government and now the BJP regime. The common man too wants that peace should be restored, but the militants are so dominant that people remain silent. Here, the common man is sandwiched between the militants and the security forces. Many a time, the locals suffer too during the counter-measures by security forces against the extremists. This has bred resentment among the people on many occasions. Therefore, special attention is needed. But the major problem before the government is whom it should talk to in order to establish peace. There are many militant outfits and each one of them has its own agenda. Most of the rebel leaders dance to China’s tune.
Under the circumstances, it is imperative to adopt an aggressive stand against extremism while taking care of the human rights. In 2015, when the Indian Army had entered the dense forests and destroyed the militants’ hideouts to avenge the martyrdom of their fellow soldiers, it had created a sense of fear in their minds. Almost all the militant organisations had gone silent. Though there have been a few isolated incidents, the militants could not carry out any major attack after that. The need of the hour is to put in place a firm, strict and aggressive strategy for the elimination of these militants. They should be cornered and cordoned off in such a way that no external element, including China, could deliver weapons to them under any circumstances. If we are successful in doing this, the screws on extremists could definitely be tightened to a great extent. But we will have to eliminate all those leaders and elements, too, who sneak into our system, nurture extremism and help it to spread on our soil.

The jawans of Assam Rifles in Manipur have been ambushed and three of them martyred in the same Chandel district in which the militants had launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army convoy in June 2015, killing 18 of our soldiers. It is clear from the latest attack that the militants have started raising their ugly head and are reasserting their defiance to such an extent that they can now dare to attack the Indian security forces. The threat of further attacks by militants in the North-Eastern states and the unrest there had started to loom large the moment Chinese incursions started in the Ladakh region. China is the biggest supporter of militants in the North-Eastern states and the sole purpose of creating unrest there is to not let India shift the Army stationed there anywhere else! This move of China was further confirmed in the last week of June 2020 when a huge cache of arms was caught at the Thailand-Myanmar border. All the weapons were made in China. Prima facie, it seemed that the weapons were meant for the Myanmar terrorist outfit called Arakan Army, which China keeps aiding and abetting but the experts later confirmed that the Arakan Army does not use such weapons. Through the Arakan Army, this cache of arms was being sent to the militants of the North-Eastern states in India. Militant groups in Myanmar and India work in tandem. However, India has also sought information from the Thailand government regarding the stockpile of arms and requested it to provide a detailed investigation report. Our intelligence agencies are at work too. Though this stockpile has been seized, would China not have already delivered such arms cache before, is the moot question. There is nothing to suspect otherwise. In fact, one route to deliver a consignment of Chinese weapons in North-East India is from Myanmar, where many militant groups have links with terrorist groups in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal and Tripura. The other route is from Bangladesh. The Netherlands-based think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) has categorically stated in its report that China is continuously engaged in fomenting tension in India. It is arming the rebels of Myanmar to stand against India. Many militant outfits in the North-East have taken refuge in Myanmar. They cross the border, carry out attacks here and go back to Myanmar with impunity. India shares good relations with the government there, but the problem is that the terrain is inaccessible and the militants hide in the forests and mountains. Many a time, the armies of India and Myanmar carry out joint operations but the network of militants is very strong, and China too may be informing them about all the activities. So they escape. So naturally, the question is what kind of strategy which could prove effective against extremism in the North-Eastern states should be adopted. The administrative machinery has been strengthened and development brought about in the region, thanks to the efforts made by the previous Congress government and now the BJP regime. The common man too wants that peace should be restored, but the militants are so dominant that people remain silent. Here, the common man is sandwiched between the militants and the security forces. Many a time, the locals suffer too during the counter-measures by security forces against the extremists. This has bred resentment among the people on many occasions. Therefore, special attention is needed. But the major problem before the government is whom it should talk to in order to establish peace. There are many militant outfits and each one of them has its own agenda. Most of the rebel leaders dance to China’s tune. Under the circumstances, it is imperative to adopt an aggressive stand against extremism while taking care of the human rights. In 2015, when the Indian Army had entered the dense forests and destroyed the militants’ hideouts to avenge the martyrdom of their fellow soldiers, it had created a sense of fear in their minds. Almost all the militant organisations had gone silent. Though there have been a few isolated incidents, the militants could not carry out any major attack after that. The need of the hour is to put in place a firm, strict and aggressive strategy for the elimination of these militants. They should be cornered and cordoned off in such a way that no external element, including China, could deliver weapons to them under any circumstances. If we are successful in doing this, the screws on extremists could definitely be tightened to a great extent. But we will have to eliminate all those leaders and elements, too, who sneak into our system, nurture extremism and help it to spread on our soil

The jawans of Assam Rifles in Manipur have been ambushed and three of them martyred in the same Chandel district in which the militants had launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army convoy in June 2015, killing 18 of our soldiers. It is clear from the latest attack that the militants have started raising their ugly head and are reasserting their defiance to such an extent that they can now dare to attack the Indian security forces. The threat of further attacks by militants in the North-Eastern states and the unrest there had started to loom large the moment Chinese incursions started in the Ladakh region. China is the biggest supporter of militants in the North-Eastern states and the sole purpose of creating unrest there is to not let India shift the Army stationed there anywhere else! This move of China was further confirmed in the last week of June 2020 when a huge cache of arms was caught at the Thailand-Myanmar border. All the weapons were made in China. Prima facie, it seemed that the weapons were meant for the Myanmar terrorist outfit called Arakan Army, which China keeps aiding and abetting but the experts later confirmed that the Arakan Army does not use such weapons. Through the Arakan Army, this cache of arms was being sent to the militants of the North-Eastern states in India. Militant groups in Myanmar and India work in tandem. However, India has also sought information from the Thailand government regarding the stockpile of arms and requested it to provide a detailed investigation report. Our intelligence agencies are at work too. Though this stockpile has been seized, would China not have already delivered such arms cache before, is the moot question. There is nothing to suspect otherwise. In fact, one route to deliver a consignment of Chinese weapons in North-East India is from Myanmar, where many militant groups have links with terrorist groups in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal and Tripura. The other route is from Bangladesh. The Netherlands-based think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) has categorically stated in its report that China is continuously engaged in fomenting tension in India. It is arming the rebels of Myanmar to stand against India. Many militant outfits in the North-East have taken refuge in Myanmar. They cross the border, carry out attacks here and go back to Myanmar with impunity. India shares good relations with the government there, but the problem is that the terrain is inaccessible and the militants hide in the forests and mountains. Many a time, the armies of India and Myanmar carry out joint operations but the network of militants is very strong, and China too may be informing them about all the activities. So they escape. So naturally, the question is what kind of strategy which could prove effective against extremism in the North-Eastern states should be adopted. The administrative machinery has been strengthened and development brought about in the region, thanks to the efforts made by the previous Congress government and now the BJP regime. The common man too wants that peace should be restored, but the militants are so dominant that people remain silent. Here, the common man is sandwiched between the militants and the security forces. Many a time, the locals suffer too during the counter-measures by security forces against the extremists. This has bred resentment among the people on many occasions. Therefore, special attention is needed. But the major problem before the government is whom it should talk to in order to establish peace. There are many militant outfits and each one of them has its own agenda. Most of the rebel leaders dance to China’s tune. Under the circumstances, it is imperative to adopt an aggressive stand against extremism while taking care of the human rights. In 2015, when the Indian Army had entered the dense forests and destroyed the militants’ hideouts to avenge the martyrdom of their fellow soldiers, it had created a sense of fear in their minds. Almost all the militant organisations had gone silent. Though there have been a few isolated incidents, the militants could not carry out any major attack after that. The need of the hour is to put in place a firm, strict and aggressive strategy for the elimination of these militants. They should be cornered and cordoned off in such a way that no external element, including China, could deliver weapons to them under any circumstances. If we are successful in doing this, the screws on extremists could definitely be tightened to a great extent. But we will have to eliminate all those leaders and elements, too, who sneak into our system, nurture extremism and help it to spread on our soil.

The jawans of Assam Rifles in Manipur have been ambushed and three of them martyred in the same Chandel district in which the militants had launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army convoy in June 2015, killing 18 of our soldiers. It is clear from the latest attack that the militants have started raising their ugly head and are reasserting their defiance to such an extent that they can now dare to attack the Indian security forces. The threat of further attacks by militants in the North-Eastern states and the unrest there had started to loom large the moment Chinese incursions started in the Ladakh region. China is the biggest supporter of militants in the North-Eastern states and the sole purpose of creating unrest there is to not let India shift the Army stationed there anywhere else! This move of China was further confirmed in the last week of June 2020 when a huge cache of arms was caught at the Thailand-Myanmar border. All the weapons were made in China. Prima facie, it seemed that the weapons were meant for the Myanmar terrorist outfit called Arakan Army, which China keeps aiding and abetting but the experts later confirmed that the Arakan Army does not use such weapons. Through the Arakan Army, this cache of arms was being sent to the militants of the North-Eastern states in India. Militant groups in Myanmar and India work in tandem. However, India has also sought information from the Thailand government regarding the stockpile of arms and requested it to provide a detailed investigation report. Our intelligence agencies are at work too. Though this stockpile has been seized, would China not have already delivered such arms cache before, is the moot question. There is nothing to suspect otherwise. In fact, one route to deliver a consignment of Chinese weapons in North-East India is from Myanmar, where many militant groups have links with terrorist groups in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal and Tripura. The other route is from Bangladesh. The Netherlands-based think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) has categorically stated in its report that China is continuously engaged in fomenting tension in India. It is arming the rebels of Myanmar to stand against India. Many militant outfits in the North-East have taken refuge in Myanmar. They cross the border, carry out attacks here and go back to Myanmar with impunity. India shares good relations with the government there, but the problem is that the terrain is inaccessible and the militants hide in the forests and mountains. Many a time, the armies of India and Myanmar carry out joint operations but the network of militants is very strong, and China too may be informing them about all the activities. So they escape. So naturally, the question is what kind of strategy which could prove effective against extremism in the North-Eastern states should be adopted. The administrative machinery has been strengthened and development brought about in the region, thanks to the efforts made by the previous Congress government and now the BJP regime. The common man too wants that peace should be restored, but the militants are so dominant that people remain silent. Here, the common man is sandwiched between the militants and the security forces. Many a time, the locals suffer too during the counter-measures by security forces against the extremists. This has bred resentment among the people on many occasions. Therefore, special attention is needed. But the major problem before the government is whom it should talk to in order to establish peace. There are many militant outfits and each one of them has its own agenda. Most of the rebel leaders dance to China’s tune. Under the circumstances, it is imperative to adopt an aggressive stand against extremism while taking care of the human rights. In 2015, when the Indian Army had entered the dense forests and destroyed the militants’ hideouts to avenge the martyrdom of their fellow soldiers, it had created a sense of fear in their minds. Almost all the militant organisations had gone silent. Though there have been a few isolated incidents, the militants could not carry out any major attack after that. The need of the hour is to put in place a firm, strict and aggressive strategy for the elimination of these militants. They should be cornered and cordoned off in such a way that no external element, including China, could deliver weapons to them under any circumstances. If we are successful in doing this, the screws on extremists could definitely be tightened to a great extent. But we will have to eliminate all those leaders and elements, too, who sneak into our system, nurture extremism and help it to spread on our soil.

Fear may affect our own identity!

Yun toh koi shikayat nahin mujhe mere aaj se,
Magar kabhi kabhi beeta hua kal bahut yaad aata hai..!


Nowadays everyone is fondly recollecting the days before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. Roaming freely and fearlessly, going to work, meeting friends, patting each other, warmly hugging, playing with the children in the neighbourhood, holding them in arms! But now everything has become a thing of the past. We still grow nostalgic about those days. The mind repeatedly asks, when will we be able to have those days back?
I am greatly optimistic and equally proactive, so never let the disappointment set in me, but the truth must be analysed. I wrote in my column last week that if human consideration remains alive only then will we all be alive. Just after that the incident of keeping the patient tied to the bed in Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh has disturbed me. His only fault was that he was not in a position to pay the hospital bill. Former Union law minister Ashwani Kumar also wrote a letter to the Supreme Court on this issue. When the situation turns to this, we have to think in which direction is our society moving?
Now I feel that the danger of losing the touch of affection is even bigger than the financial crisis. We are seeing that close family relationships are also being affected. People who were distraught at parting from their dear ones are not even ready to touch their bodies. The workers who are walking hundreds of miles to meet their family members are being prevented by their own people from entering their villages. Even the sadhus and saints who used to extend their feet to let their devotees touch them are not willing to even bless them from a distance. Now discourses are going on on the Internet. The pandemic has shaken internal relationships.
I remember when I was a student and when our teachers used to put their hands on our shoulder with great affection or pat on the back, we used to be filled with happiness. The whole day used to become auspicious with the feeling that Guruji laid his hands on our shoulder! When a sister used to tie a rakhi on the wrist of her brother and mother used to feed morsels of food, father giving a piggyback ride and husband putting ‘gajra’ in his wife’s hair. Those were the days!
If a friend suddenly came from behind and closed my eyes, I would experience a unique sensation. Much later when I read about touch science, I came to know that nature has given us this unique gift of touch with a lot of thinking and understanding. Scientists have also proved that someone’s touch has a profound effect on our mind and brain. When I was in Parliament, it happened many times that the Prime Minister placed his hand on my shoulder and asked, “How are you Vijay?” I often felt that such touches are very inspiring. A gentle touch activates the chemistry of affection, love and emotion.
Science says that there are pressure receptors that feel the pressure just below our skin. When someone touches us, these pressure receptors send waves directly to the brain. These waves depend on the style of touching. If the touch is full of affection and love, the stress-causing hormones start to decrease. Scientists have found that holding hands and hugging each other lowers the stress hormone cortisol and at the same time increases the levels of the confidence-producing hormone oxytocin.
Now let’s look at this problem from the perspective of Indian culture. The developed civilizations may have given up embracing each other and their social touch has been reduced to their hands, but in our culture different dimensions of touch are still an integral part of our lives. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, all embrace each other. Girls clasp hands. Children love to play on swings and get along with each other. We also have a culture of touching the feet. Psychology states that when we touch the feet of an elderly person, feelings of love, blessings and sympathy are produced in his heart, which makes his aura filled with energy. Our aura takes that energy. By bowing down, we also create humility within us.
I cited the examples of science and Indian culture so that we can understand the importance of touch better. Just think that today we are in a situation where we are not able to touch each other, so what an unpleasant effect this must have on our body and mind! Simply put, this is one of the reasons why a human becomes irritable during lockdown. Stress hormone increases and the feel-good hormone decreases. If this situation continues for a longer time, our lifestyle surely will be affected badly.
It is an undeniable truth that social behaviour will suffer when people themselves are not happy! This pandemic will disappear today or tomorrow! What is imperative is that our behaviour should not change. If there is a crisis, we definitely have to fight it and we have to fight it as per the rules. But preserve your inner affection and love, for this is our biggest strength. So be healthy, be happy! Golden days will definitely be back again!

Criminalisation of politics weakening democracy

The nexus between crime and politics is very old and it has assumed a more hideous dimension now. When Vikas Dubey, a dreaded criminal with political clout, brutally killed 8 policemen in Uttar Pradesh, it sparked a nationwide debate once again on this nexus. Since Vikas Dubey has now been gunned down, we may never know how many politicians he was working for and how many of them were working for him! It has already come to the fore that the entire Chaubepur police station in Kanpur district was like a fiefdom of this history-sheeter! Moreover, Dubey’s family members dominated all local bodies, right from panchayat to Zilla Panchayat. Perhaps, he could just as well have got elected as an MLA in the next election!
In 1993, the N N Vohra Committee had submitted a report on the unholy nexus of crime, politics and other administrative institutions. It studied the problem of the criminalisation of politics and of the criminals, politicians and bureaucrats’ nexus in India. The report also mentioned some such criminals who had become members of local bodies, State Legislatures and Parliament. The committee report was not presented in the Parliament for two years. In 1995, sensational Naina Sahni murder case rocked the nation and the government was forced to make Vohra Committee report public. However, only a select 12-page report, of the over 100 pages, was made public. In that report, it was clearly stated that the criminals at local level get protection from political parties and officials occupying government posts. Drug traders are also associated with these gangs. They also have a nefarious relationship with the mafia and foreign agencies.
In 1997 when many institutions and vigilant leaders pressurised the government to make Vohra Committee’s full report public, the government approached court. The court said the government cannot be forced to make the report public. Thus, the matter was put into cold storage.
But the question still baffles as to why efforts are not being made to root out the nexus between leaders, criminals, bureaucrats and police? The answer is that the nexus between criminals who have made deeper inroads into politics and politicians and officers who protect criminals is so strong that none of them will do anything to weaken this symbiotic relationship which could harm their interests. They have formed a syndicate of mutual interests. Statistics reveal that 24 per cent of MPs had a criminal record in 2004, which went up to 30 per cent in 2009 and 34 per cent in 2014. In the present Lok Sabha, 43 per cent of MPs have serious cases registered against them. In UP, 143 or 36 per cent of the incumbent 402 MLAs have criminal cases registered against them. There are criminal cases against 142 MLAs in Bihar. There are also politicians who have been declared as ‘bahubalis’. The wicked nexus of criminals, politicians, police and bureaucrats is witnessed in every state, right from north to south and east to west. Shady characters are ruling the roost everywhere from panchayats to municipal bodies and state Assemblies. Since the caste system is predominant in Bihar and UP, the police there give protection to criminals in accordance with their caste.
The judiciary has also been making harsh observations on this grave state of affairs. In September 2018, while hearing a bunch of PILs, a bench of the then Chief Justice of India Justice Deepak Mishra termed the criminalisation of politics as a termite in the temple of democracy. On several occasions, the court has also issued directions to the government and political parties to free politics of criminals, but the reality is that no political party is serious about it. Political parties argue that they cannot deny a ticket to someone until and unless he is convicted. And the height of shamelessness is that if it is not possible to give the ticket to the mafia don, the same is given to his wife.
Apparently, the criminals are so deeply entrenched that they have grown bigger than the politics. They have built their evil empires around politics. They control everything and are into all types of businesses. Be it sand or murrum mining or liquor trade, criminals are everywhere. No one can get a contract without their consent. Many criminals have taken over the taxi and truck businesses. They control the workers’ unions in most of the factories. In the states like Bihar and UP, criminals run firearm factories. The drug trade has established its firm grip over almost every state. All this cannot happen without political patronage. Many films have also been made in our country on the theme of politics and crime, but the powers that be have grown so insensitive and thick-skinned that it hardly affects them. Our politicians even solicit the support of criminals as per their convenience in disturbing the social and communal harmony, let alone taking action.
Although there are many honest IAS, IPS and other officials who keep trying to crack down on criminals at their level, but they too have to bear the brunt of their political masters. They are transferred and persecuted in more ways than one. Some have even lost their lives. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out which one can imagine now is that the common man should rise against it and exert so much pressure on the leaders and bureaucrats that they are forced to refrain from hobnobbing with the criminals. Courts should take suo motu cognisance and initiate necessary action too.

 

Yoga, udyog hold the key to prosperity

The world celebrated International Yoga Day on June 21. It is in this context that a timely and elaborate discussion was held, first with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, founder of the Art of Living and crusader of peace and brotherhood in the world, and then with the Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev ji who has taken the pledge to make the whole world healthy through Yoga at a webinar hosted by Lokmat Media. I asked both of them that since the importance of Yoga is scientifically established and it is being studied in Europe and other countries of the world, why is it not being included in the school curriculum in our country? Why Yoga should not be taught to the children right from the age of three? What are the problems?
Both maintained that yoga should be a part of our life. Sri Sri said Yoga should be made compulsory not only in schools but also at all the workplaces. Since employees reel under stress at work, Yoga practice should have been started at workplaces by now. Why is it so late? Baba Ramdev ji said, quite rightly, Yoga is not a part of any religion. It is for everybody and everyone should take to it. If Yoga is practised in every household, nothing can be better.
The word 'udyog' (industry) also came up with Yoga during conversation with Baba Ramdev, for he has also carved out a niche for himself in business and industry. He is credited with forcing national and multinational companies to enter the field of Ayurvedic products. Both Yoga and industry are the paths on which our country can achieve economic self-sufficiency along with health and wellness. The problem is that not only our country but also other countries of the world are constantly getting weaker (or being weakened deliberately) in terms of health. People have become weak with poor resistance power, as a result of which Covid-19 pandemic killed lakhs of people across the world. Those with sturdy power of resistance staged quick recovery. People with low immunity have fallen prey and will continue to succumb to viral illnesses like SARS, chikungunya and swine flu from time to time. I know many people who spend more on medicines than grocery every month.
If Yoga is made part of our daily life, it will boost our immunity and our body will be able to fight viruses. Yoga and Ayurveda are able to keep a person healthy, but unfortunately the international nexus of allopathic medicine is so powerful that it has suppressed Ayurveda, Unani and homeopathy. The pharmaceutical companies manufacturing allopathic medicines are so powerful that the World Health Organisation is like a dumb doll under their pressure. The 2018 figures show the annual turnover of medicines at over Rs 91 lakh crore worldwide and the annual growth rate is 6.3 per cent. Medicines costing Rs 1 are being sold for Rs 100. I think a nexus is at work that attracts people to junk food so that people get sick after eating unhealthy food, then take medicines and get caught in medical insurance trap too!
The question is if China can develop its system of medicine, why can’t we develop one of our own? Our legacy of Yoga and Ayurveda is very ancient. We have taught Yoga and 'pranayam' to the world. If we adopt these mediums completely, we can save crores of rupees spent on healthcare and use them to strengthen the society. After all, this money belongs to the taxpayers only!
Prior to Baba Ramdev ji, the name of Yogacharya Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar ji was mentioned with great reverence all over the world. Just after the First World War, he gave the message of wellness to the world. He established a new genre called Iyengar Yoga. The American Yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch, who has been recorded in the Guinness Book as the oldest 98-year-old yoga teacher, also learned Yoga from Iyengar ji. China had also conferred its highest civilian award on Iyengar ji. Realising the importance of Yoga, Queen Mother of Belgium invited him in 1958 and learned Shirshasan from him. Many more greats like J Krishnamurti, Jayaprakash Narayan and Sachin Tendulkar have been disciples of Padma Vibhushan Iyengar ji.
Bihar School of Yoga in Munger is doing spectacular work in the field of Yoga. Apart from this, there are old nurseries of Yoga in many other places. Rishikesh has become famous as Yoga Capital. But we need to think how far we are able to carry forward such a great legacy. Yoga also enriches our values. People like Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, Prahlada Pai and Annasaheb More have deepened the roots of culture in our society. We should also carry on their legacy. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself does Yoga. His predecessors, Pandit Nehru, Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi also used to do Yoga. Despite all this, the denial of government patronage to Yoga comes as a surprise! I asked Baba Ramdev ji why is it so? His answer was, Modi ji is a little hesitant in taking decisions.
As of now, we are again gushing about Swadeshi and retching up rhetoric against Chinese goods and boycotting them. Though we speak about Make in India and Made in India, do we have such a system that we can face China and multinationals? There are some industrial houses in our country that have international credentials. Verily, companies like Patanjali, Dabur and Vicco are competing successfully but this competition is going to be very long. I have written many times in this column that we have to ease our policies to allow the industries to develop and stand competition from multinational companies. Only when our own industries grow, will the nation become self-reliant. The reality of the present era is that only Yoga and 'udyog' (industry) can make us a global power. Therefore, let the children be accustomed to Yoga before they become addict to medicines. So make Yoga and products of our own industries a part of life. It will make us healthy and happy!

 

Torture is a wound in the soul of humanity

The recent custodial death of a father-son duo in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu which has sparked a countrywide outrage, has made everyone ponder over the failure to wipe out the stigma of custodial torture which is among the worst crimes in a civilized society. P Jayaraj and his son J Bennix were picked up by the police for keeping their shop open even after 7 pm in violation of coronavirus prohibitory orders. Both father and son were subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in custody. They were thrashed so severely that their clothes were soaked in blood and when new clothes were brought from home, they too turned bloody soon after. The unspeakable torture continued unabated for two days till the duo died in custody.
Although action has been taken against some policemen in this case, the moot question is why  torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment continue in police custody? No matter how stringent action is taken now, those unlucky souls will not come back! And this is not an isolated case. In India, the stories of torture and cruelty keep popping up repeatedly on the grounds of religion, caste and what have you.
Many instances of death in custody make a spine-chilling story. The country has still not forgotten the Bhagalpur incident wherein the police had blinded 31 undertrials by pouring acid into their eyes. Article 21 of the Constitution gives us the right to live with dignity. Even those who are in custody or in jail on some charges have this right. Many years back, Justice V R Krishna Iyer had reminded us through his judgments that basic human rights of someone who commits a serious crime, remain intact even inside jail. This concept is enshrined in our Constitution too. Some people, especially agencies, argue that if the accused is not sternly dealt with, he is unlikely to tell the truth. People also buy this argument without application of mind. The reality is that agencies have many ways by which they can find out the truth. Custodial torture is the cruelest and inhuman method of getting the accused to confess and should be outlawed. Yet, for want of any robust debate and legislative action, custodial torture and deaths continue unabated.
Though latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) are not available, old figures show that between 2001 and 2013, 1,275 people died in police custody. That means 98 people died in custody every year. But this figure is far from the truth. The National Human Rights Commission says that between 2001 and 2010, 12,727 people died in jail or judicial custody. Experts believe that 10 to 15 custodial deaths occur every day in India. I would like to mention the D K Basu case in which the Supreme Court issued many guidelines but they too were given the go-bye.
These instances signal that our attitude towards human rights leaves a lot to be desired. The World Conference on Human Rights was held in Vienna in June 1993. The declaration was signed by 176 countries of the world. India was also one of the signatories. But despite numerous national and international opinions recommending its ratification, our country has not taken this crucial step so far. You will be surprised to know that even a country like Pakistan has enacted a law against torture but we have not done it yet. Since we have not enacted the anti-torture law, we are not even a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. To become its member, the country has to enact a law to ensure that there will be no torture of the accused at all and humanitarianism will govern every aspect of life. Cases of custodial torture and absence of a law to deal with various aspects of custodial torture is a ground often used by Indian fugitives living abroad against their extradition to India. You must have seen that all those who have fled the country, be it Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallya charged with economic offences or Nadeem accused in the Mumbai serial bomb blasts case or anyone else, took refuge in London. They told their host country that they feared inhuman torture if extradited because India does not have a law to prevent custodial torture and the condition in the jails is abysmal. The fugitives have used this argument often to their advantage, evading extradition to their homeland and thus, they continue to live abroad with impunity.
During the British era, the jails were the chambers of torture, but even today the situation has not changed much. The prisons are badly overcrowded and lodge prisoners several times beyond their capacity. Nehruji once said that we should visit our prison to see the actual condition. The condition of prisons in the developed countries of the world is said to be good, but they too are no less notorious in the treatment meted out to the prisoners. During George Bush’s regime, Guantanamo Bay detention camp established on an island near Cuba, had been turned into a torture island where the Iraqis were subjected to inhuman treatment and unspeakable torture. The inhuman practice drew fierce criticism from every part of the world for its violation of human rights. The Americans also strongly raised their voice against the Bush administration. We have witnessed the dangerous form of torture in the era of Taliban and Islamic State.
As far as the enactment of a strong law on human rights is concerned, Dr Manmohan Singh had categorically stated in 2010 that the law must be enacted because we have to bear the brunt of the review that takes place at the international level every year. Our attorney general represents India in that review and every time we end up saying that we are working in this direction. The question is why the law has not been enacted since 2010?
The Cabinet decided to enact the law in 2010 itself. The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha had also taken a decision in this regard but the priority at that time was the Right to Food Bill and therefore, it was passed first. I was in the Parliament at that time. You may remember that between 2010 and 2012, there were many disruptions in the Parliament due to which that Bill could not be passed. At that time, Kamal Nath was the minister for parliamentary affairs and had put the Human Rights Law Bill on priority too but all was lost in the pandemonium in the House!
If we adopt stringent laws on human rights, custodial torture can be prevented effectively.  In the absence of a law, we are unable to stop custodial torture. You will be surprised to know that of every 100 custodial deaths, only 34 policemen are booked and chargesheeted and only 12 per cent of them are convicted. I do not say that all the cops facing charges are guilty but if they are innocent, who is to be blamed for the custodial deaths? We must have an effective and foolproof system that we do not feel embarrassed and guilty in front of the world.
Torture is a crime against humanity, “a wound in the soul”. Therefore, India needs to stand with the rest of the world in having an effective law against torture. It will vindicate the promise of our dignitarian Constitution.

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