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05 Jan 2015 editorials

NEWS PAPER EDITORIALS

 

05 Jan 2015

 

 

The Hindu:

Time for a national security doctrine

 

By restarting dialogue with Pakistan and acting with diplomatic restraint following the Pathankot attack, the Narendra Modi government has wisely differentiated between the Pakistan government and non-state actors. The challenge thrown up by the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air force base is to evolve India's national security doctrine to include its response to non-state actors. While carrying on diplomatic engagement with Pakistan, India needs a firm strategy to deal with terrorist threats that are now the prime challenge to the state. Political consensus must be evolved, in a publicly transparent manner, to reflect the complex challenge facing the country, detail its thresholds, interests that would be protected at any cost and response calibration vis-à-vis armed aggression. The doctrine must be accompanied by a national security strategy that spells out the command and control structures for meeting eventualities such as terror strikes, so that last-minute goof-ups such as thosethat have been evident at the Pathankot airbase are not repeated. In the absence of such a clearly articulated consensus, India's response is qualitatively linked to the government of the day, its key leaders and their personal ability, or inability, to understand and appreciate security challenges.

The proposed security doctrine must be anchored in the foundational values of the Constitution. India enjoys Westphalian sovereignty, which grants it exclusive right to its domestic affairs and security but also comes with a huge bundle of responsibilities. India still has no written national security doctrine, and whatever is practised as the doctrine, and strategy, is vastly inadequate. The political class across the spectrum needs to come together to define India's permanent interests. It is time to move on from the unwritten grand strategy of working only towards the political unity and preservation of India to a written doctrine that defines India's role in the world and its commitment to protecting the life, liberty and interests of its people. After every terrorist attack, there are shallow attempts by the establishment to fit episodic responses into academic frameworks and proposals for security establishment reforms, but in no time things go back to default mode, until the next terrorist attack. The recurring terrorist attacks are not just a humiliation for the country but also a nightmare that is repeatedly disrupting daily routines and taking away precious lives. The very foundations of India's security establishment need to be reformed if a robust national security doctrine is to be implemented. The intelligence agencies are cloaked in mystery, and with no credible external audit. Given the opacity of these agencies, intelligence alerts often emerge that have no credibility. In the process, credible intelligence inputs, such as the one about Pathankot, are not treated with enough seriousness. The agencies that are to provide security cover and neutralise terrorist threats do not have a cohesive command and control structure. It varies according to who is in control in New Delhi. It is time to finally show that India can be more than a functional anarchy.

 

doc·trine

A belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.

 

dip·lo·mat·ic

Of or concerning the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations.

 

re·straint

A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits.

 

e·volve

Develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

 

thresh·old

A strip of wood, metal, or stone forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed in entering a house or room.

 

cal·i·bra·tion

The action or process of calibrating an instrument or experimental readings.

 

goof

A mistake.

 

an·chor

Moor (a ship) to the sea bottom with an anchor.

 

spec·trum

A band of colors, as seen in a rainbow, produced by separation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction according to wavelength.

 

hu·mil·i·a·tion

The action of humiliating someone or the state of being humiliated.

 

re·peat·ed·ly

Over and over again; constantly.

 

cloak

Dress in a cloak.

 

co·he·sive

Characterized by or causing cohesion.

 

co·he·sion

The action or fact of forming a united whole.

 

 

The Hindu: Dress code by judicial diktat

Seeking to preserve the 'spiritual ambience' in temples by prescribing a dress code for worshippers may appear to be a laudable objective. However, courts of law should be cautious about framing their own rules in the guise of passing judicial orders. A fiat from the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court prescribing the sort of clothing that devotees should wear while visiting temples has come into effect in Tamil Nadu from January 1. A single judge decided on November 26, 2015 that to curb the wearing of "improper clothing" by temple-goers, a dress code was "inevitable". Even though what was before him was only a petition for permitting a folk cultural performance on the premises of a village temple, he impleaded the State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department as a respondent and proceeded to prescribe an interim dress code straightaway. The code, that sets down dhotis or pyjamas with upper cloth, or formal trousers and shirts, for men, and saree or half-saree with blouse, or churidars with upper cloth, for women, and any fully covered dress for children, will be in force until the State government decides on implementing a code on the lines given in the court order. The department has now decided to appeal to a Division Bench against the single judge's order. It has rightly taken the position that the order was not in consonance with the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, which permits individual temples to frame rules relating to attire based on their own customs and traditions.

It is true that many places of worship belonging to all religions do have and enforce some sort of attire for worshippers and visitors. There are temples that insist that male devotees should be bare-bodied above the waist while inside their precincts, and many that allow only dhotis and bar trousers. However, these restrictions are framed by temple authorities based on local tradition and customs. The acceptability of the worshippers' clothing is decided by local circumstances and ought not to be based on external decree, much less through a judicial diktat. In Tamil Nadu, tens of thousands of temples do come under the State government through the HR & CE Department, but that does not automatically mean that a writ of mandamus can be issued by the court to the authorities without sufficient cause or any public law principle. There is nothing to show that public authorities had failed to do their duty of protecting the ambience of temples all over the State. The judge's code may not be unduly restrictive, but it raises the question whether there is any religious rule linking dress with devotion. It is not clear why the prescription is gender-based, when some kinds of apparel — shirts and trousers, for instance — are worn by both men and women. Judicial activism undoubtedly furthers public interest, but it is equally important that it is not used to impose a particular world view on the public.

 

laud·a·ble

(of an action, idea, or goal) deserving praise and commendation.

 

guise

An external form, appearance, or manner of presentation, typically concealing the true nature of something.

 

curb

A stone or concrete edging to a street or path.

 

in·ev·i·ta·ble

Certain to happen; unavoidable.

 

impleaded

(Implead) Impleader is a procedural device before trial in which one party joins a third party into a lawsuit because that third party is liable to an original defendant. …

 

en·dow·ment

The action of endowing something or someone.

 

con·so·nance

Agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions.

 

at·tire

Clothes, especially fine or formal ones.

 

pre·cinct

A district of a city or town as defined for police purposes.

 

de·cree

An official order issued by a legal authority.

 

dik·tat

An order or decree imposed by someone in power without popular consent.

 

de·vo·tion

Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.

 

 

BUSINESS STANDARD: India needs to catch up on R&D

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the Indian Science Congress at Mysuru on Sunday comes in the context of various controversies over knowledge drawn from classical texts, including his own reference in the past to plastic surgery in ancient India. But, there can be no quarrel with the PM's assertion that the country must "bridge the distance between traditional knowledge and modern science" and must also "use scientific techniques and methods to delve deeper into traditional medicines and practices like Yoga." The discipline of scientific enquiry will remain central, and traditional knowledge must be subject to the scientific method. In fact, since the prime minister has also mentioned issues like treatment and wellness, it will be a great gain if large clinical trials are run to validate traditional remedies. Some of what traditional medicine has to offer is so obviously useful that its efficacy is simply waiting to be recorded and documented in a manner acceptable to modern science.

Mr Modi has also underlined the commitment of his government to the revival of rivers and securing their future. Signalling a shift in paradigm, he has said that they are the soul of nature which has to be sustained, and man is part of nature, not superior to it. The implication is that the role of the civil engineer changing geography belongs to the last century. If this is indeed a paradigm shift, then it must be considered necessary also to discard at the highest level the ill-conceived idea of his ministerial colleague, of building several barrages across the Ganga. Such action, if undertaken, will take away whatever little life is still left in the river. In fact, the highest priority should be given to the idea of ensuring an abiral nirmal dhara which also includes the resolve not to dump waste in the river.

What the prime minister did not touch upon is the fact that the Indian scientific effort has a long way to go. How far the distance is can be gauged from the wide difference between India and China on several parameters like spending on research and development (R&D), research papers published and patent applications filed. China is now among the global leaders in the design and manufacture of smart phones, solar panels and high-speed trains. India has a lot of catching up to do — and both the government and the private sector have a role to play. Both must spend more on R&D, and the latter must tie it up with innovative efforts to gain global competitiveness. Making such efforts in generic pharmaceuticals and information technology solutions is not good enough. As for the productivity of government scientific establishments, which leaves a lot to be desired, the promise of a scientific audit should be followed through rigorously. The hierarchical culture in many government laboratories needs to be addressed. Innovative methods must be found to stimulate R&D. Providing tax incentives that are easily misused is not a sustainable solution; R&D superpowers like Germany have practically no such incentives. There are few alternatives to strengthening government-funded basic science and creating an ecosystem around that, which privileges intellectual property rights and innovation.

as·ser·tion

A confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.

 

delve

Reach inside a receptacle and search for something.

 

ef·fi·ca·cy

The ability to produce a desired or intended result.

 

par·a·digm

A typical example or pattern of something; a model.

 

dis·card

Get rid of (someone or something) as no longer useful or desirable.

 

gauge

Estimate or determine the magnitude, amount, or volume of.

 

rig·or·ous

Extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.

 

stim·u·late

Raise levels of physiological or nervous activity in (the body or any biological system).

 

 

INDIAN EXPRESS

The schism widens

 

The severing of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, after Riyadh expelled Iranian diplomats on Sunday, giving them 48 hours to get out of the country, is not a surprising development. It was long feared that things would come to this pass. Yet, little was done to prevent it. Saudi Arabia's execution of dissident Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr-al-Nimr — along with 46 others, mostly Sunnis allegedly associated with al-Qaeda — on Saturday resonated across Shia communities in the Middle East, enraging Iran and provoking its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to invoke "divine revenge" on the Saudi kingdom. While Iran had the upper hand vis-a-vis an execution condemned across the world, the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran prompted Riyadh to seize the narrative and cut off ties.

 

As leaders of the Shia and Sunni worlds respectively, Iran and Saudi Arabia have always been rivals, if not outright enemies. They have certainly never been friends. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the hostage crisis at the US embassy, Tehran and Riyadh found themselves in opposite Cold War camps. Although the late 1990s saw a substantial improvement in relations under Mohammad Khatami's moderate regime in Tehran, the Iranian nuclear programme raised temperatures that refused to subside even after the American rapprochement with Iran culminated in last year's nuclear deal. In recent times, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been on opposite sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the latter conflict being a proxy war between them. Since this rivalry had already been playing out in the Arab street, if the current crisis escalates into a more direct military confrontation, its impact on a volatile region devastated by conflict will be indescribable. Already, Bahrain and Sudan have followed Saudi Arabia in severing ties with Iran, while the UAE has downgraded ties.

 

Unfortunately, neither state seems to be in a mood to step back. Riyadh is wary of plummeting oil prices and a royal battle of succession. Tehran's conservatives are afraid, post-nuclear deal, of a bigger reformist push and Western "impositions". As a result, nationalist rhetoric and inflamed public passions directed outward serve both and the competition for Middle Eastern leadership provides the perfect frame. Any Shia-Sunni conflagration will spill over beyond the Middle East. But one of the first casualties, as is already evident, will be the low price of oil, followed by hopes for a political resolution in Syria.

 

 

sev·er

Divide by cutting or slicing, especially suddenly and forcibly.

 

ex·pel

Deprive (someone) of membership of or involvement in a school or other organization.

 

dis·si·dent

A person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.

 

al·leg·ed·ly

Used to convey that something is claimed to be the case or have taken place, although there is no proof.

 

ex·e·cu·tion

The carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of action.

 

con·demn

Express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure

 

prompt

(of an event or fact) cause or bring about (an action or feeling

 

sub·side

Become less intense, violent, or severe

 

cul·mi·nate

Reach a climax or point of highest development.

 

dev·as·tate

Destroy or ruin (something).

 

in·de·scrib·a·ble

Too unusual, extreme, or indefinite to be adequately described.

 

war·y

Feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems.

 

plum·met

Fall or drop straight down at high speed.

 

con·fla·gra·tion

An extensive fire that destroys a great deal of land or property.




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