Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The government alone can’t defeat terrorism!

More than the USA, more than the UK or the other countries in the west, it is India which is a victim of international terrorism and the home-grown variety of it. The central and various state governments are alive to the challenge posed by terrorism to the idea of India and they are now getting their act together in combating it. But whereas the governments, even with the best will in the world, can not be present every where and at all times, the people of India are. They only have to take upon themselves to be the eyes and the ears of the government in reporting to it any unclaimed baggage and vehicles, unusual movements of individuals and groups, and also anything way out of the ordinary. An alert citizenry is the best defence against terrorism and each one of us, not terrorists ourselves, have to play our role here effectively. We also have to prevent any particular group of the society or any particular religious community from being branded as perpetrators of terrorism.

Any one can feel left out, discriminated against, even oppressed, and they could be right or wrong in it, but it is the job of others to open a line of communication to them and remove all misunderstandings after discussion. The idea is not to pamper the dis-affected but to talk to them, understand their unmet aspirations, and together with them decide upon a course to redress their legitimate grievances.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How would I solve the problem of Naxalism?

I would take the following steps one by one :

i) Through an ordinance, declare all sales of agricultural land in the past ten years by the Scheduled tribals to non-tribals void and restore the land to the tribal owners. The state would compensate the non-tribal buyers by giving them the price they had paid with interest compounded, say, at 7% p.a. Also ban such sales in future.

ii) Amend the Forest Produce laws, with retrospective effect, to legalise the tribals’ picking up of minor forest products and withdraw all legal cases instituted against them in the past in this matter, just as the Jharkhand government has done recently.

iii) After these goodwill gestures, offer three to six months’ cease-fire to the Maoists and on their agreeing, invite them for unconditional and comprehensive talks.

iv) Make very clear to them that the state is willing to address itself to all their legitimate concerns and demands with honesty, transparency, and alacrity.

v) During the cease-fire, build rural roads, establish primary health centres and primary schools in the areas controlled by the Maoists and entrust their safety and security to them. Do this all in the full glare of the media, print and electronic.

vi) Make it clear to the Maoists that while the government would be more than willing to concede their legitimate demands, a revival of violence by them would be met with full force at the state’s command.

vii) In the unfortunate event of replying to the Maoists’ violence, take all precautions to avoid, at least minimise, collateral damage to the non-combatants and the crops and other property. As far as it is possible, let the media accompany the state forces on their operations against the Maoists to pre-empt any accusations of the human rights’ violation.

viii) Do everything possible to invite the Maoists and their supporters to take part in the democratic process, to stand for election and on succeeding, form democratic and Constitutional governments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I am grateful to India's political leaders, let's see why

It is difficult to be grateful to the kind of political leadership we in India are having, particularly when we spend a significant part of our waking hours to criticising it for nearly all the problems and miseries faced by us. But just because it is difficult it should not deter me from at least making an attempt to find out a few things to be grateful for.

The first thing I am grateful to the political leaders for is ensuring that we Indians have the freedom of speech; we are free to question, criticise and even condemn any one to our heart's content. It may not have a desirable effect on the object of our attention but at the end of the exercise we do feel happy.

Then I am grateful for the freedom to choose our representatives every five years or sometimes even sooner. I know that democracy does not just mean the right to exercise our franchise but the very idea that we can unseat a government that did not deliver empowers us, it is altogether a different matter that the replacement may prove to be worse.

Next comes responsiveness, though many a time delayed and defective, to the public concerns. Left to themselves the political leadership may like to ignore the public but it is not doing that is a cause of a minor celebration.