Earlier this week two Sukhois escorted five Rafale fighter jets in the Indian skies. It was a spectacular moment, which brought joy and filled every Indian’s heart with pride. Even the media newsrooms were abuzz and excited about the arrival of the new generation air power.
The touchdown of the first instalment of the new-generation fighter aircraft brought about a much-needed feelgood factor in the backdrop of Chinese tension at Ladakh. The magnificent aircraft, which are now part of the Indian Air Force arsenal, are known for their deadly ability to strike air-to-air targets from up to 150 km. They bring with them a sense of security.
They can safely hit land targets 300 km within enemy territory. The French aircraft are the first major air defence acquisition in 23 years after Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. While China kept quiet when this event played out, Pakistan’s response was predictable.
Anything which makes India powerful is a thorn in Pakistan’s flesh. A spooked Pakistan Foreign Ministry reacted by urging the world community to take note of “India’s efforts to amass military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirements.” Clearly, Pakistan is rattled with the development especially in the backdrop of the beating it got in Balakot.
The late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Kalam’s reply to a student he once gave is a betting reply to Pakistan. When a student asked him why a peace-loving person like him tasked his country’s scientists and engineers to build missiles, he replied: “In the 3,000-year history of India, barring 600 years, the country has been ruled by others. If you need development, the country should witness peace, and peace is ensured by strength. Missiles were developed to strengthen the country.” Historically India has never overemphasised its defence needs over the development. It has only acquired what was required.
It is ironical though that India has to repeatedly remind the world community that it is a peace-loving country. But when push comes to shove India knows how to defend itself. There was a time when India did not get support from the world to enhance its weapon capability. Yet under the leadership of Kalam India developed missile, submarine and nuclear weapons technology.
The multi-billion Rafale purchase for the country’s self-defence is much required and gives an edge over the inimical neighbours. But this need also brings an understanding of the need for indigenisation of defence technology. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a major push in direction under the Make in India plan after he took over in the first term.
The concern is while India is importing new-generation fighter aircraft from France, China is making aircraft of matching caliber in its own country. This has been possible due China’s shrewd use of dual-use technology it has acquired from the US over the decades. India needs to harness this aspect.
As we know dual technology could be used for both peaceful purposes and development of weapons, for example nanotechnology. While over the decades the US became majorly dependent on China for outsourcing manufacturing it had no option but to transfer the technology. China not only used the technology transfer to enhance its manufacturing sector but also to build a robust defence capability. China over the decades has been discreetly using the US knowhow to develop offensive warfare technologies. It is another thing that their technology has not been war tested for a long time.
India had made several strides in the acquisition of dual use technology from the US and other countries since the 1980s. Over the years it has developed knowhow to develop advanced systems and technologies such as nanotechnology, information technology, communications satellites, artificial intelligence, robotics, and unmanned systems along with nanoweapons.
When India carried out nuclear tests in 1998, the world woke up to the country’s capabilities both in terms of its scientists and use of technology. It raised several eyebrows. Following the tests India faced a tough time of the US sanctions which continued until President George W. Bush after 9/11 terrorist attacks decided to waive off the sanctions. It was though a tactical move but following this decision India also got its share of dual-use technology transfer from the US.
US Undersecretary of Commerce Kennith Juster and Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal met to establish the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group, which sought to stimulate bilateral hightechnology commerce and strengthen the relations between the two countries.
In this understanding the two countries understood the importance of enhancing trade in ‘dual-use’ items, including controlled ‘dualuse’ goods and technologies while protecting the national security and foreign policy interests of both the countries.
In spite of India having a good track record in this regard when Kanwal Sibal travelled to Washington he was asked about critical remarks coming out of the US Congress regarding nuclear, high-tech, and space technology transfers between US and India. He gave a befitting reply. He said in the US policies are not simply made by the administration; they are also made by Congress. So there is tension within the US system.
He added, India is not a member of Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and it does not subscribe to Missile Technology Control Regime. Yet, there is to be nuclear and space cooperation. Since India is not a party to the instruments that exist to deal with non-proliferation or missile technology, there is a conundrum. He had said; “Our answer is we are what we are.”
While India has been under close scrutiny of usage of dual-use technology, China has had its way all along. A report in 2003 stated that China ranked third in the world in the number of patent application cases concerning nanotechnology, only behind the US and Japan. But one year later China owned 12 per cent of the world’s total nanotechnology patents.
When the developments of China’s military programme became known, the US Defence Department in its annual report said Beijing has and will continue to enhance its satellite tracking and identification network — the first step in establishing a credible anti-satellite weapon capability. China could only destroy or disable satellites only by launching a ballistic missile or space launch vehicle armed with a nuclear weapon. However, there are many risks associated with this method. On the basis of interest China showed in this field, DIA had a strong sense that Beijing was eventually capable of developing a laser weapon capable of damaging or destroying satellites.
This realisation had also prompted India to take up dual-use technology more aggressively. Realising its mistake of unbridled dualuse technology transfer to China, the US became inclined to aid India in the use of transfer of dual technology as a balancing act. However, India has not been able to benefit from the transfer of technology as much as China did.
While in the short term there is a need to strengthen defence capability through necessary imports like Rafale, in the long run India must indigenise its capabilities in the sector. In his inaugural speech at Defexpo 2020, PM Modi announced formulation of a long-term integrated plan for 15 years. If such a programme were to succeed, then it is essential to take industry on the same page well in advance about armed forces requirements with specifications and timelines.
The PM also emphasised that the government is working earnestly to promote defence manufacturing in the private sector. He informed of a slew of measures which have been initiated to make it easier for the private industry to have a stake in defence manufacturing including the decision to open up DRDO patents free of cost to Indian private manufacturers.
During the Defexpo unprecedented 1,000 exhibitors and 15 lakh visitors visited the exhibition of live demonstrations of military capability in mock operation settings. Defence Ministers from 30 countries also participated.
India has increased its defence budget from Rs 3,40,921 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 4,71,378 crore for 2020- 21. This increase becomes important among the competing demands of modernisation and sustenance. India faces multiple threats and needs to be prepared for full-spectrum war.
In order to achieve this goal India must make best use of available dual-use technology. Simultaneously, it must also develop indigenous capability. This could happen by bringing on board able scientists. There is a need to make extra effort to retain capable Indian scientists in the country by giving them adequate incentives. Otherwise, a sizable population of Indian scientists land in the US and Europe to develop dual-use technology, which would eventually take decades to reach India.
The defence sector must also promote private partnerships by removing the bureaucratic hurdles. The relationship should have a clearly demarcated expectations and delivery mechanism.
India needs to enhance its road and infrastructure in forward areas on priority basis. A lot of work has already begun in this direction but it needs to be expanded all along the borders. The country also needs to upgrade its missile systems and further upgrade space technology, especially with regard to surveillance satellites. Last but not the least, cyber warfare is one area where the country has good capability but it needs more push for getting an edge in this area as well. Imagine if arrival of Rafale aircraft brings so much happiness to Indians, the joy will multiply several times when the country makes its own similar aircraft.
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SELF-RELIANCE THROUGH THE USE OF INDIAN LANGUAGES IN AI
Indian knowledge tradition is a broad concept. It helps in developing a broader dimension and approach. Artificial intelligence, which is prevalent in today’s time, if defined by understanding it in the real sense, is the cloning of the human brain. The machine itself is non-living, but the resultant output of the input that the human brain provides to it through software and programming is visible to us in the form of applications of artificial intelligence. It is, as much as its creator, intelligent. If the scientists of this field understand the functioning of the brain via emotional manifestations, then the robot made by them can also be emotional. The artificial intelligence that is being talked about nowadays has some limitations, such as a robot can do as much work as its program or software will command it to do.
Generally, these programs are built based on many facts, applications, and examples. If the conditions are changed, then these machines or robots will work to the extent that the situations have been programmed in them. It is to be noted here that the ideas come to us originally in our languages. There may be any other language, but in the abstract or latent state, the conceptual process is relative to the native language of the person. It is to be noted here that while moving from one linguistic level to another in the form of expression of ideas, they gradually become less in terms of their intensity and originality. More linguistic transfer destroys their original feeling. From this point of view, it will be possible to make more efficient machines using artificial intelligence using the original language of thoughts. People learn from their experiences, the wider their experiences, the more will be their thinking power.
There are three main components of artificial intelligence— thinking power, software, hardware. Wherever work is going on, on this subject all over the world, all three components work separately. The main component of this work is to clone the thinking power or mental emotions.
The work of software can be done by any skilled software engineer, and the work of hardware can be done by any company. Therefore, its core lies in cloning mental impulses. The data of a person’s thoughts or thinking acts as a raw material or main component in it. There is no match of countries like India, China, Japan all over the world in the efficiency of behavior and quick diagnosis of situations. China is famous to copy a product immediately. Thinking power and inclination to the knowledge of India and the technological brains of Japan is also noteworthy. Therefore, the main component of artificial intelligence is most available in countries like India, China, Japan.
India is not able to use it fully, because it is not aware of the importance of its knowledge in an integrated way, and unorganized Indian talent. With the desire to earn more money through migration, that knowledge is continuously being given to the country which is very advanced in terms of software. It can be explained to a nonprofessional through an example as if food is the need of every person, but the process till the food is made is a complex set of components. The farmer does the farming, the agent buys it from the market, the agent retails it, sells in the market, the customer buys it from the retailer and prepares food. The agent has the system, which is necessary for the management between the customer and the farmer. Therefore, neither the farmer earns the profit equal to his hard work, nor the customer. The middleman, the highest-earning agent, and the customer suffer the impact of inflation. The same tendency is with any technology in the world, technology is lobbying for the one who benefits the most. Therefore, by developing a system through our languages, by stopping the drain of the brain, a speedy pace can be made towards self-reliance.
Revealed: Secret US government psychic research programmes
In order not to rock the foundations of contemporary civilization, and also to hold fast to any applicable uses of the transcendent discoveries of military intelligence, the concerned authorities in the USA kept their investigations and insights secret and at times formally denied their existence or validity.
When I first entered the United States in June 1983, for a long sojourn I have recounted in my book of a few years ago, A Shining City on a Hill, I did obviously not know that on that same day a 29-page classified technical report was submitted to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (USAISC) at Fort Mead, (Army Operational Group Commander DET 0) on the secret CIA research programme codenamed Gateway and dedicated to investigations about consciousness and their potential scientific and military applications.
McDonnell’s report (CIA-RDP96—00788R001700210016-5) confirmed the validity of the research into para-psychological and sophrological phenomena and their reality, generally deemed as inexistent and related to “magical mind tricks” or misleading erroneous impressions. The report, integrating the experiments of Israeli-American inventor and yoga/TM practitioner Itzhak Bentov (who had died in a plane crash in 1979), was not made accessible to the public as it contained challenging claims which partly overturned many current scientific theories and observations about the nature of reality and life. It was only released under FOIA on the 10th of September 2003, with the exception of page 25 which was withheld for reasons that will be alluded to in this article.
Much of the research done under the GATEWAY/STARGATE protocols was related to the work of Robert Monroe, the founder and director of the Monroe Institute in Virginia whose discoveries I discovered back in the eighties and describe summarily in my aforementioned book. The findings of Monroe and the CIA-sponsored teams are more or less the same as they collaborated in their research. Several members of the US Armed Forces were sent to the Monroe Institute’s secluded facilities to undergo the tests and experimental processes designed to achieve paranormal insights by raising the level of consciousness according to methods derived from Carl Jung’s psycho-analytical therapies and more broadly from yoga, TM and other “eastern” meditational techniques.
The Italian website Omega Click has commented on some of the vast amount of documentary material created under the auspices of the GATEWAY/STARGATE programmes. Omega Click interviewed Professor Raffaele Renna, a psychologist, astronomer and expert on the subject. Renna highlights that, among the major conclusions drawn from that research, the mapping of cerebral functions has uncovered the virtually infinite powers of the mind to visualize all things beyond space and time and shown that the “brain capital” (which is actually outside the brain) survives death as it is located in non-local, entangled space-timelessness whereas “everything is omnipresent” and time is only a measurement for the motion of energy. In that light the brain is a receptor that decodes and interprets signals or algorithms originating in universal consciousness and produces the appearances that our senses make us regard as Reality,
All this may be regarded as a mere reiteration in contemporary scientific vocabulary of the “mystical’ teachings of ancient sages in many parts of the world. However, the salience of the GATEWAY report lies in the fact that it does not simply enunciate theories. It documents a scientifically tested method to reach elevated states of out-of-body “non-local consciousness” (more than twenty years before quantic interpretations of consciousness were first publicly ventured). Instead of psychedelic drugs or “spiritual” exercises the means used under the GATEWAY programme were specific sounds beamed to human subjects in isolation chambers through earphones at a different frequency for each ear, which leads the brain to syntonize them to produce Delta waves (4 Hertz), denoting deep meditational states. At a specific vibrational wavelength the brain exits “our” spacetime to access other dimensions or other worlds, so to speak. Physiologically this state amplifies fourfold the resonance of the heartbeat and generates a recurring sinusoidal wave ranging between 6.8 and 7.8 Hz. which echoes the earth’s own vibrational frequency.
The resulting condition is called “syntony” of the individual with the planet at wavelengths of 40,000 kilometers amplitude (corresponding to the earth’s diameter) and confers extraordinary powers (clairvoyance, remote viewing, telekinesis, time travel, ecstatic bliss) which ancient traditions called Union with the Divine, Moksha, Sunya, Satori, Tao, Illumination, Salvation and many other such names. This mapping of supramental ascent, described by Sri Aurobindo was experientially arrived at by Itzhak Bentov who described the phenomenon in his 1977 book Stalking The Wild Pendulum. On the Mechanics of Consciousness as summed up by Marc Seifer in Transcending the Speed of Light: Consciousness, Quantum Physics, and the Fifth Dimension. Inner Traditions – Bear & Company 2008. p. 49: “During normal breathing, the reverberations in the aorta are out of phase with the heartbeat and the system is inharmonious. However, during meditation and when the breath is held, the echo of the bifurcation of the aorta (where the aorta forks at the pelvis to go into each leg) is in resonance with the heartbeat and the system becomes synchronized, thus utilizing a minimum amount of energy. This resonant beat is approximately seven cycles per minute, which corresponds not only to the alpha rhythm of the brain but also to the low-level magnetic pulsations of the Earth.”
Monroe claimed that between the “normal” state of human awareness (comparatively the lowest) and the highest or “absolute” one there are innumerable degrees of consciousness inhabited by beings who are not perceptible through our physical senses but who can be interacted with at higher levels.
This last revelation concerns the “Aliens” of many types reported by millions of witnesses for centuries and now generally known as ETs and their “astral vehicles” classified as UAPs or “Alien Visitation Craft” in military parlance. Many of them at least appear to operate in other dimensions from which they enter our “universe” and to which they return at will.
The GATEWAY study seems to have corroborated Monroe’s contention that about 5% of all people are able to reach the highest state of realization by means of repeated use, over more or less lengthy periods of training, of the audio-sensorial process described above.
It was stated earlier that page 25 of the McDonnell report was missing until last April when it was released by the Monroe Institute to an investigator from the Canadian Vice magazine. The contents of that page are indeed of critical importance because it lays out the “cosmic design” behind reality. It talks about a “cosmic egg” as a hologram, of which everything is a projection and which is itself a reflection of the undefinable Absolute “one step removed from it”. That hologram is also called in the text the Torus or spiral of Creation and identified as the “Holy Spirit” of the Christian Esoteric Trinity, The Adam Kadmon or Tree of Life of Kabbalah. In Vedic terminology we may equate it with the Viraj or Hiranyagarbha (from which the report under review here apparently borrowed the image of the “cosmic egg”) or the Vedantic Paramatman. For the Saktas and Shaivaites it is Mahadevi while the Greek Ephesians worshipped it as Artemis-Diana (Magna Mater) and the Middle Eastern Gnostics alluded to it as Sophia.
Another striking inference reached by the report is that western science is so far unable to attain this realization because of its left-brain controlled approach which ignores and rejects the right-brain’s influence guiding the so-called “spiritualists” since thousands of years of philosophical quest, at the root of the religions followed in most parts of the world. The “Gateway Experience” as it is called in the report, “releases the subject from the prism (and prison) of subjective perception and analysis. It is “a portal through which the individual may pass in his search to find himself”, an echo of the mantra Tat twam asi and of the universal sophic commandment: “know thyself” as our Self is indeed the mirror or hologram of the Whole.
The conclusion in a few lines is that Intelligence and military sponsored research led, four decades ago to the confirmation of the ageless teachings of Indian psycho-physical Knowledge (paravidya), shared with many other more or less esoteric or occult traditions all over the world. Presumably in order not to rock the foundations of contemporary civilization and also to hold fast to any applicable uses of this transcendent discovery military Intelligence, the concerned authorities in the USA kept their investigations and insights secret and at times formally denied their existence or validity. However it may well be that many scientific and technological breakthroughs that are transforming our lives and conditions like never before are outcomes of this accession by a few “initiates” to the higher reaches of the mind on the trail blazed by Bentov, Monroe, Puharich and others. The very Internet created in the last thirty some years is an electronic clone of the cosmic web of energy and life that binds all things and makes up the universe.
Apart from well supported rumors about the existence of hitherto undisclosed technologies for unlimited “free energy” generation from the “zero point” quantic field and for biological age reversal, instant healing and other “miraculous” uses, there are several reports about secret space missions conducted to other planets of the solar system and perhaps beyond it, made possible by the technologies developed in that “transcendental” frame of reference. One of the latest credible sources on this score is no other than General Haim Eshed, the veteran astrophysicist who was for thirty years the chairman of the space committee of the Israeli Council for Research and Development and the Director of the Space Programme of the Defence Ministry. He made these “extraordinary claims” in his 2020 book: Universe beyond The Horizon: Conversations with Professor Haim Eshed.
STAY OUT OF KASHMIR, SUPERMAN AND WONDER WOMAN
Renowned Justice League icon Superman apparently destroying Indian Air Force F/A-18D Hornets over Kashmir. India does not have any such aircraft. (Screengrab from Injustice)
Something bizarre has happened in the DC Universe—for the uninitiated, DC Comic Universe where fictional characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman dwell. Suddenly, out of the blue, in an animated movie by DC, Injustice, Superman and Wonder Woman are seen to be fighting the Indian military in Kashmir and disabling their aircraft and missiles to make the place an “arms free zone”. Moreover, Kashmir is mentioned as a “disputed region” in the film. Curiously, while the animated movie shows the superheroes fighting for peace in different fictional places, a real name has been inserted in between, that of Kashmir. In another clip, an Israeli flag has been used to show an Israeli leader signing a peace deal with someone behind whom there is a green flag. If the film has to be believed, the Indian military bombs civilians in Kashmir—an outrageous fiction. In fact, it is Pakistan, which regularly bombs its own people in the name of countering insurgents. Since we do not know how geopolitical experts such as Superman and Wonder Woman have come to the conclusion that Kashmir is a “disputed” area and the Indian military bombs its own civilians, we can only speculate about the invisible hands at work here. It could be a case of a direct Pakistani or Chinese intervention, or both, and/or could be the handiwork of some very woke pseudo-liberal-types who derive their knowledge about India from the very-woke Western legacy media, which takes a rather Orientalist view of this country. While some will say it’s better to ignore such drivel, the problem is, some very malign forces seem to have been able to introduce an anti India element in a medium that is highly popular and thus also influential. The matter cannot be ignored, for it may get bigger in future.
However, when it comes to China, Hollywood takes a problematic stand. It whitewashes all PRC crimes, including turning a blind eye to the oppressive and authoritarian rule of the Communists in Tibet and Xinjiang. Not too long ago, one of the big studios faced immense international anger after filming certain parts of Mulan—an ancient China story—almost next door to the concentration camps that PRC has built for the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The studio also actively engaged with the publicity department of the Communist Party during the filming. China is a big market for Hollywood. Much Chinese money is floating in Hollywood, with the Chinese funding films, buying up theatre chains, and with Chinese production companies teaming up with their Hollywood counterparts. As a result, concerns are being raised about Chinese propaganda and censorship making their way even into Hollywood blockbusters. US soft power adds to its superpower status, and it is this soft power that the Chinese are using to their own benefit as they conduct their political warfare at a very subliminal level. Amid this, it is but natural that in the DC Comic case, the finger of suspicion will be raised at China and its “iron brother” Pakistan.
The Kashmir insertion in the DC film is insidious and dangerous because anti-India propaganda is thus sought to be normalized and influence young minds. Around three years ago, a Hollywood series, Quantico, starring Priyanka Chopra had shown Hindu nationalists planning to carry out a nuclear attack in Manhattan and frame Pakistan for it, to scuttle US-Pakistan talks. The plotline was so outrageous that it led to a huge hue and cry, forcing the television studio ABC to apologise to Indian viewers. All this has to be seen in the context of the huge campaign going on in the West by the left-pseudo-liberal section to paint India as an electoral autocracy, an authoritarian country, because it is headed by a right of centre government. As a result, people unaware of the ground reality in India are falling for this fake narrative. This has to be countered. Public pressure needs to build up on DC Comics to remove the mention of Kashmir from the film. India has a lot of economic muscle and a market, which Pakistan does not. If a campaign builds up, Superman and Wonder Woman will lose many more fans and business here than in a broken and bankrupt country such as Pakistan. Hence, DC needs to drop the offending reference and let superheroes do their super-jobs, without meddling in world affairs about which they do not have any clue.
What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?
Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals.
It is a known fact that quality of governance indicates capacity to be resilient against disasters. The hurricane Katrina of USA that caused over 2000 deaths and US$ 125 billion in damage in late August 2005 exposed the pathetic governance of Louisiana. People had bad health, houses were weak, high rate of drug addiction, unsterilized city animals, uninsured citizens, unemployed youth and all this because of a highly corrupt leadership and unresponsive state administration. Uttarakhand’s unstoppable exposure to some of the most heart-rending disasters every year from floods to earthquakes to glacial lake outbursts and to landslides bring provoking questions about its governance. As data reveals decisions have been taken in defiance of limits that nature sets in the form of carrying capacity of any terrain. As causes of disasters, Corruption comes first and climate change later.
Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals. The villagers basked in the new found Panchayat power after the 73rd Amendment in 1992 which brought many silent communities into focus as repositories of power. It brought power but not the right to govern. From Sundarlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt the early Gandhian environmentalists till late Prof. G.D.Agarwal and woman seer of Haridwar Padmavati the Ganga crusaders have only asked for a share in governance. While the memory of Uttarakhand’s disaster victims begging for food and clothes in big cities of Uttar Pradesh like Lucknow and Bareilly still remains, it is not yet a thing of past. Local village communities are still seen begging with unattended medical conditions and little hope for sustainable livelihood. As per Census of India (2011) Uttarakhand has a population of 101 million with a pathetic sex ratio of 886 women per thousand men and a much higher infant mortality rate (IMR) at 38 in 2020 which is higher than the India average IMR of 29.07. With female literacy at 70 and the male literacy at 88 the state has nothing to rejoice about. What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?
The Uttarakhand government could rarely defend itself after Dhauliganga disaster that washed away the Rishi Ganga hydropower project at Raini village after a glacier broke off in Joshimath. The massive floods caused by glacial outburst in the Dhauli Ganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand washed away houses and many people. The village Panchayats of this area had been an alert group against environmental injuries as the legendary Gaura Devi, leader of Chipko Movement hails from here and had kickstarted action in March 1973 from this village. These villagers had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Uttarakhand High Court in summer 2019 which issued directions to the state government to check what was going on in Raini village of Chamoli concerning the construction of the hydel project. The government was not concerned till the dam broke off. Similarly, Naveen Chandra Pant and many others residents of village Ganwa Sirmoli, District Bageshwar raised voice through a PIL against illegal mining in village Panchayats of Ganwa Sirmoli, Tehsil kanda in District Bageshwar, the court issued directives to the state government but instead of introspection to protect mountain topograpgy for survival of people’s habitat, many decisions were taken in contravention of the judicial directives. Some of them are as discussed here.
In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed. In a Cabinet meeting headed by the Chief Minister in the same year, more than 10 such projects were approved which not only deepened mining into river bed but also changed boundaries of eco-sensitive zones around national parks. To deepen this process of mining the Uttarakhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2001 were changed to allow digging as deep as 3 meters. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change only participated to facilitate this process. None of the political executives found anything wrong into it despite the Judicials warnings from the Nainital Court and the National Green Tribunal. Same year, the state government brought in a new Stone crushing policy which endangered a large part of pristine national reserves. If this was not enough, the state government also attempted to remove Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) on vehicles engaged in regulated mining as per court orders so that this could become a free for any vehicle coming to mining area. The brutal breaking down of hills which balance each other and the felling of trees that are water recharge-shed for land has already disturbed the equilibrium beyond repair. The greed for land and minerals has devastated rivers of Uttarakhand and made them flood prone. The increasing temperatures are related to the activities being promoted by government over the hills.
Is the state government prepared for managing disasters? The Policy and the Plan for disaster management has not been updated since 2016. The Policy and the Plan document repeatedly refer to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, need for an evacuation plan, organizational structure of disaster management(only posts not names),hazards and vulnerabilities of India and the state per se but nothing in particular to offer to an administrator who has to look back and take action in a calamitous situation. Interestingly, these documents look like a student’s examination answer sheet where he fills up as many sheets writing the same irrelevant answers with the hope that more pages would earn him better marks. The key points that enable pre-emptive action for an administrator, key collaborators and friends or partners in need and with rural population being thrice the urban there is an intensive need to identify trained and willing panchayats to come on call for disaster prevention. Uttarakhand loses roughly 20 thousand crores to disasters every year. Does it invest this amount in development that gets washed away due to disasters? Therefore the argument of refining quality of governance led by educated and sensitive people who are grassroot connected and speak the language of their land, is the only alternative to the current chaos and sorrow.
The author is president, NDRG, and former Professor of Administrative Reforms and Emergency Governance at JNU. The views expressed are personal.
In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed.
WHY IS RAHUL GANDHI RELUCTANT TO TAKE THE ACTUAL JOB?
Hours before the Congress Working Committee met there was a hashtag trending on Twitter clamming, #YehDilMangeRahul. And true to the script, the usual suspects (AK Antony and Ashok Gehlot) raised the question of leadership, asking Rahul Gandhi to take over as party president. Rahul replied: “I will consider it.” No one asked the obvious follow-up— What is there to think about and consider? It’s not as if it came as a `Breaking News’ for him that his party wanted him to step up. Despite Sonia Gandhi claiming that she is not an interim arrangement but a full-time, hands-on working president the fact of the matter is that she has been stepping back for a while now and letting her children, especially Rahul take all the crucial decisions. The theatre in Punjab was scripted by Rahul and Priyanka as was the rather successful show of opposition strength in Lakhimpur Kheri. Again it was Rahul Gandhi who met and admitted Kanhaiya Kumar to the party; when Navjyot Singh Sidhu threw on his sulks, it was Rahul who met him before the CWC meet and placated him. Again during the meeting, while Sonia handled the discipline issues by sending a stern message to the G 23, it was Rahul who laid out the party’s agenda i.e we are a party for the downtrodden and so we should reiterate the message by promoting backward caste leaders like Charanjit Singh Channi, that we should not let media dictate our narrative, etc (am paraphrasing the gist of his comments as told to me by sources).
So, if Rahul is taking all the important decisions, why is he still reluctant to take the actual job?
One reason for this could be that he is still wary that catapulting him to the post of the party chief will put him in direct confrontation with the Prime Minister in the next Lok Sabha polls. As the leader of the largest national party in opposition, he cannot fight the polls under the leadership of another opposition leader even someone like Mamata Bannerjee who may be feisty but she is still a regional leader (and yes I know her party is national but she still has to extend her appeal outside West Bengal).
The opposition fight will have to be spearheaded by Congress with the support of Mamata, Sharad Pawar, etc. Rahul Gandhi has done a lot to improve his image but his real test will be the next round of assembly polls to establish his credibility. Uttar Pradesh is not the only state going to the polls and if Congress shifts its focus to the low-hanging fruit of Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Goa then it could win 3 of the 5 states in the next round. That will blunt the edge of losing Uttar Pradesh (despite Priyanka’s Lakhimpur Kheri intervention I still think the UP fight is between the BJP and SP while the Congress will at best improve its tally). Some Congress leaders claim that this is the plan and the Lakhimpur Kheri was as much as sending a message to the farmers of Punjab, as it was about Uttar Pradesh.
Well, let’s watch this space over the next few months. Because the main problem with the Gandhi siblings has always been consistency.
Lok Sabha without the Deputy Speaker
A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court alleging inaction in filling the constitutional post of the Dy Speaker, Lok Sabha. Obviously, the petitioner is, arguably, well concerned as there has been an unconscionable delay of over 28 months in the election of the Deputy Speaker.
The Vedic literature refers to ‘Sabha’, ‘Samiti’, and ‘Sabhapati’. A hymn of Yajurveda says, ‘Salutations to the Assembled and salutations to the President’. An Assembly cannot transact business without electing its Sabhapati or the President. The makers of our Constitution, therefore, made specific provision for the election of the Speaker and Dy Speaker. Article 93 of the Constitution casts an obligation that “the House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof, and so often as the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member” to fill the vacancy.
The expression used is ‘shall’ and not ‘may’ which, as per the cardinal principle of statutory interpretation, leaves no shred of discretion left with the House. The posts are considered so important that the makers of the Constitution provided not only for choosing the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as early as possible but made it mandatory for the House to choose another Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may, if any of the post becomes vacant.
The expression, ‘as soon as may be’, cannot be construed that these constitutional posts remain vacant for years indefinitely. The House consists of members and it is for the Government, commanding majority in the House, to hold election to these constitutional posts so as to avoid any constitutional void.
It is in this backdrop that a petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court alleging inaction in filling the constitutional post of the Dy Speaker, Lok Sabha. Obviously, the petitioner is, arguably, well concerned as there has been an unconscionable delay of over 28 months in the election of the Dy Speaker. It may take still longer as the Winter Session of Parliament is yet to convene.
The post of Deputy Speaker, as per well-established parliamentary convention, goes to the opposition. The foundation of this convention was laid way back in 1956 when Sardar Hukum Singh of the Akaali Dal was elected unapposed as Dy Speaker. The Deputy Speakers like G.G. Swell, Shivraj Patil, Mallikarjuaiah, Suraj Bhan, P. M. Syed, Charanjit Singh Atwal, Karia Munda, and Thambidurai too, did not belong to the ruling party.
During the Monsoon session, 2021, when the issue about prolonged delay in the election of the Dy Speaker was raised, the Speaker observed that it was not in his power. Let’s see what the Rule says. Under Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, ‘the election of the Deputy Speaker shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix’. However, the fact of the matter is the date for holding election to the post of Dy Speaker is fixed at the initiative of the Government. As a parliamentary convention, the post, though elective, goes to the opposition. The Government plays a decisive role as it commands majority in the House. Government may have behind the curtain consultation and help in the election of a candidate who may be, though from the opposition but not from the principal opposition party. So, Government has the leeway by virtue of its numerical majority to contrive a situation in which the post of Dy Speaker may go to a mellowed-in-tuned-opposition rather than the dominant opposition.
The Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker in his absence. He is not subordinate to the Speaker. He holds an independent constitutional post and is answerable to the House and can be removed by the House only. He has the same powers as of the Speaker when presiding over the sitting of the House and no appeal lies against his rulings given in the House and cannot be reopened by anyone. He is, like the Speaker, as the Speaker of the British House of Commons pleaded with King Charles who had stormed the House in 1642 thus, ‘Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here..’
In the absence of the Speaker or due to vacancy in the office of the Speaker, Dy Speaker performs the duties of the office of the Speaker. In 1956, when Speaker G. V. Mavalankar died, Dy Speaker, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar filled the void, and later he was elected as Speaker. In 2002 due to the demise of G. M. C. Balayogi, P.M. Syed, Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the Speaker. It was P. M. Syed, the Dy Speaker belonging to the Congress party who presided over the joint sitting of Parliament convened to pass The Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002 by the Vajpayee Government. When G. S. Dhillon resigned from the post of Speaker in December, 1975 on being sworn as Minister, Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the office of the Speaker. Similarly, when Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy contested in two different terms the election of the President of the republic, he resigned from the post of Speaker and the Dy Speaker discharged the functions of the Speaker.
Since the matter is sub-judice, the moot question is whether the High Court can direct the Lok Sabha to elect the Dy Speaker. The High Court is empowered to issue appropriate direction to do complete justice in a matter before them. In any case, the Speaker Lok Sabha is on record that it is not his job to appoint the Dy Speaker but of the House to choose one. However, the well-established parliamentary practice is that a motion is moved by the parliamentary affairs minister and duly seconded by the treasury benches or by the opposition, which is carried by the House. With the unanimous election of Sardar Hukum Singh of the Akaali Dal as Dy Speaker in 1956, it has become a sound convention that the ruling party, despite its majority, offers the post to the opposition. When the Dy Speaker is elected, he is duly conducted to his seat by the parliamentary affairs minister and the leader of the opposition. There are instances when prime ministers, namely, Deve Gowda, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Dr Man Mohan Singh personally conducted the newly elected Dy Speaker to his seat. Notably, Atal Bihari Vajpayee conducted the Dy Speaker to his seat during the 12th and the 13th Lok Sabha.
Another fascinating aspect is that the post of Deputy Speaker never remained vacant. Even the Britishers, when the central bicameral legislature was set up in 1921 under the GoI Act,1919, the post of Vice President was held by Sachidanand Sinha with Sir Frederick Whyte as the President of the Central Legislative Assembly. The Constituent Assembly, tasked with the responsibility of framing the Constitution, had two Vice Presidents- H.C. Mookherjee and T.T. Krishnamachari. The Provisional Parliament too had a Dy Speaker- Ananthasayanam Ayangar. The Constitution makers therefore rightly made a mandatory provision to have the posts of Speaker and the Dy Speaker filled without any delay, when the new House is constituted and as and when any one of these posts fall vacant. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen and constitutional body to abide by the Consitution and respect its ideals and institutions. The Constitution, more than the citizens, binds the State and, more so, the constitutional bodies, must be exemplar in discharging their constitutional obligation. Minimum government and maximum governance cannot obliterate in its sweep a constitutional provision. If gold rusts, what shall iron do?
The author is ex Addl Secretary, Lok Sabha, and member Delhi Bar Council. Views expressed are personal.
The Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker in his absence. He is not subordinate to the Speaker. He holds an independent constitutional post and is answerable to the House and can be removed by the House only. He has the same powers as of the Speaker when presiding over the sitting of the House, and no appeal lies against his rulings given in the House, and cannot be reopened by anyone.
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