What did it achieve?

Sweet and Sour

The loss to the country ran into hundreds of crores. Its success is understandable as prices of petrol, diesel and edibles like dals, vegetables and just about every thing has gone up three to four times. But it would have been better if the opposition leaders had specified what they would do to bring them down if they were in power rather than simply blaming the government. Their inability to do so exposes their sinister motives; they came together even though they are bitterly opposed to each other as the BJP and other right-wing parties are to the communists, to try out their joint strength to see if they could bring down the Congress-led UPA and make a bid for grabbing power. And the easiest short-cut is to prevent the government functioning no matter what it cost the country.

Unfortunately, we as a people are prone to abstain from work on the slightest excuse. This is very different from the Chinese who are well-known to work eight days in the week. We, on the other hand, notably our civil servants, take as many holidays as they can wangle: earned leave, sick leave, (whether sick or not), religious holidays, gazetted holidays as a mark of respect to leaders who kick the bucket and at times with no excuse whatsoever. That is the main reason why the pace of our progress is lower than in China. Besides, we have the largest number of beggars whose only work is to beg on roadside. We also have a large number of shirkers who justify not doing any work on religious grounds: sadhus, sants, nihangs and their likes. We have to cultivate work ethos and erase words like hartal, bundh gherao, chukka jam by making them out-dated.
From across the border
Last month 11 Pakistani journalist came to visit India. Some of them expressed the wish that besides calling on the prime minister and the home minister, they wanted to meet journalists like Kuldip Nayar and me. Who even though refugees from Pakistan went out of their way to foster Indo-Pak friendship. I am now too old to take the strain of meeting strangers. I gave in when I was told that one of them claimed to be from Hadali where I was born 96 years ago and spent the first five years of my life. So Asim Awan, political reporter of The Express Tribune of Islamabad turned at 7 pm. He was not from Hadali but from the neighbouring town Khushab, along the banks of the river Jhelum. All I remember of it is the railway platform and the story I was told of one of my great grandmothers who lived there. She used to go to the river before break of dawn to have a bath. One early morning she felt something sting her in the back. She hurried back and died. When they were bathing her corpse for cremation, they found mark of a snake-bite behind her neck. How many people can boast of a great grandmother who died of snake bite? I can and she lived in Khushab.

Both Khushab and Hadali have undergone a great change in their population since the partition of India in 1947. In Hadali, Hindus and Sikhs were replaced by Muslim refugees from Rohtak. In Khushab they were replaced by Muslims from Ambala. In both Hadali and Khushab remained original Muslims clans comprising Awans, Tiwanas, Waddals, Mastials and Noons.

I asked Asim Awan whether he found any anti-Pakistani bias in India. Not at all, he replied. On the contrary when people found out that I was from Pakistan, they went out of their way to be extra friendly. I was happy to know that. He added: After all we are the same kind of people and speak the same languages.

In the end of the meeting I asked him where they were staying. In Maurya Sheraton. Even the staff are very friendly.

It is amongst the most expensive hotels in Delhi. I remarked.

We are not paying out of our pockets; we are guests of your government, he clarified.
I was happy to hear that. However, the next morning I read in the newspapers that the number of Pakistanis visiting India had dropped by half because our embassy in Islamabad does not grant them visas. I was baffled. Is this what our home minister believes to be the way of reducing the trust deficit that he often talks about?

Modi in Bihar
Nitish has no right to frown at Narendra Modi
And test the poise and patience of BJP
Modi is not only the heart and soul of his party
He is the model of development in the country,
A model of communal peace, harmony and amity,
A man who has booked his place in history
For his treatment of a religion minority
A passionate man who stands tall
And in his speeches pours out goll
Nitish is no match for him at all
And in order to win the election in Bihar
Mr Kumar must win over the minority community
Which Modi alone can guarantee,
So that Bihar CM must realise his mistake and
do the following two things
Apologise to BJP and seek Modis blessings.
(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

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