Saturday, December 13, 2014

Terrorists attack on Indian Parliament – 13th Dec 2001 - Homage to martyrs

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to the martyrs of the Parliament attack - 13th Dec 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to the martyrs of the Parliament attack - 13th Dec 2014

Indian Parliament attacked

On December 13, 2001, the Indian Parliament was in its winter session. At 11.30 in the morning, five armed terrorists belonging to Pakistan supported Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist groups, drove through the gates of Parliament House in a white Ambassador car, fitted with an Improvised Explosive Device.

When they were challenged, they jumped out of the car and opened fire. In the gun battle that followed, all the attackers were killed. Eight security personnel and a gardener were killed too. 22 people were injured.

The police said that the dead terrorists had enough explosives to blow up the Parliament building, and enough ammunition to take on a whole battalion of soldiers. Unlike most terrorists, these five left behind a thick trail of evidences — weapons, mobile phones, phone numbers, ID cards, photographs, packets of dry fruit, and even a love letter.

There were about 100 Members of Parliament in the building at the time, although none was hurt.

Prime Minister’s TV speech

The then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made a televised address to the nation shortly after the attacks, and was quick to denounce the militants.

"This was not just an attack on the building. It was a warning to the entire nation." he said. "We accept the challenge."

Investigations and arrest

On Dec 14 and 15, the investigating agencies, together with the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, captured four people under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that was then in force. They were Afsal Guru, SAR Geelani, a Delhi University professor, Navjot, also known as Afsan, and her husband, Shaukat Hussain Guru.

Geelani and Afsan were let off and Shaukat Hussain Guru's death sentence was reduced to 10 years' imprisonment and he is now out of jail.

Death sentence to Afzal Guru

Afzal Guru was sentenced to death on Dec 18, 2002, by a trial court, which the Delhi High Court upheld on Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Aug 4, 2005. 

Execution of Afzal Guru

After the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, who was involved in the Mumbai attack, a large section of the Indian population demanded the hanging of Afzal Guru, who was the master mind behind this Parliament attack. Human Rights’ organizations protested against the hanging of Afzal Guru. For fear of Muslim backlash in Kashmir and elsewhere, the Government of India withheld the decision without hanging him.

The citizens desired that there should not be any mercy on the terrorists and that all terrorists should be treated as terrorists, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, because terrorism was beyond all religions and beliefs
Afzal Guru's mercy petition was rejected by the President of India on 3rd Feb 2013. 
Afzal Guru was hanged six days later on 9 February 2013 at 8 am.   Very few officers were told about the decision. Three doctors and a maulvi, who performed his last rites, were informed secretly a night before. They were asked to come early Saturday morning. Guru performed his morning prayers and read a few pages of the Quran. The execution of Mohammed Afzal Guru was named Operation Three Star.

It is a different story that some of our human right activisits, secular leaders and some media criicised the Government for hanging Afzal Guru secretly.  However, major poliical parties like Congress and BJP welcomed the hanging.

By Prime Point Srinivasan

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hoping for Peace in Jammu & Kashmir – Braving Bullets, People Choose Ballot

In the evening of 25th November 2014, when television channels flashed the news of a 72% voter turnout in the first phase of the Kashmir Assembly Elections, the entire nation was pleasantly surprised.  The election of the members to the Legislative Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir state is being held in five phases commencing 25th November 2014. The total number of seats in the J&K Legislative Assembly is 111, of which 24 seats fall in the regions occupied illegally by Pakistan.  Hence the election is being held only for 87 seats, as the Election Commission is unable to hold elections in the 24 seats, occupied illegally by Pakistan. 

As against the five-year term for their counterparts in the other parts of India, the term of office for these legislators is six years under the 'Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir'.  The major political parties in the state are the National Conference (NC), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP). The results will be declared on December 23, 2014.  J&K State has three regions, viz. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.  The current population is around 13 million, of which nearly 7 million are eligible voters. 

Accession to India and a Separate Constitution for J&K

On 15th August 1947 immediately after the independence of India, all the princely states numbering more than 560 were acceded to India due to the indefatigable efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel and V.P. Menon.  Jammu & Kashmir was handled directly by the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.  The Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, Hari Singh signed The Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947 and the same was accepted by the Governor General on 27th October 1947. Though 2.2 lakh sq. kms of land was handed over to India through The Instrument of Accession, only 46% is now available in India's possession, due to some historical botches in the early years after independence.
The first elections were held in 1951.  With the boycott of all the political parties in the elections (due to the rejection of valid nominations), the National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah, won 75 out of the 75 seats.  Although all the 560 princely states became part of Union of India smoothly, accepting the Indian Constitution, the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheik Abdullah had an ‘understanding’ which is known as the ‘1952 Agreement’.  This understanding provided more power to J&K to make laws, conferring special rights and privileges to the state subjects. This was debated in the Lok Sabha in July 1952.  All the opposition leaders did not favour this ‘understanding’.  No written agreement is available in any Government records. 

The elected members of the 1951 election formed the 'Constituent Assembly' to draft a 'Constitution for Jammu and Kashmir'.  The Constitution of J&K was adopted on 17th November 1956.  The Preamble and Part II, section (3) of the Constitution state 'The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India'

As per this new constitution, many of the Indian Laws are not be applicable in J&K without the concurrence of the State Government.  The Head of the State Government was called the Prime Minister, and later renamed Chief Minister in 1965. 

The subsequent elections for the Legislative Assembly were held in March 1957.  Till 1977, elections were held once in 5 years.  Through an amendment in the J&K Constitution, the term of the Legislative Assembly was extended to 6 years from 1977.  The Indian Election Commission was given the jurisdiction to conduct elections by another amendment to the J&K Constitution in 1965.  The first Lok Sabha Members were elected from J&K only in 1967. Earlier, only nominated members represented in the Lok Sabha.

Challenges and Controversies

In the militancy and separatist movement in 1988, more than 4 lakh Hindus were displaced from the Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley.  They had to move out of their villages, leaving behind their lands and houses.  “It is a shame for all, that a citizen of this nation had to move out of his own place and live in a relief camp like a refugee, in his own country”, said Yajjin Bhatt, one of the migrants from Anantanag and presently living in Delhi. All their properties in Anantanag were forcefully occupied by the local people, without any compensation to the evicted.  Although the Election Commission allows these displaced people to vote in the elections by setting up special booths at Jammu, Udhamput and Delhi, not many migrants have voted as they did not register themselves as voters.  Many of the migrants from Kashmir Valley have moved to various parts of the country; perhaps they had opted to enroll themselves in the states/places where they chose to settle, instead of going to the special booths in the specified places.

During the partition in 1947, thousands of Hindu families came from West Pakistan and settled in the Jammu region. Sadly, these refugees (presently 3 lakh people, mostly belonging the Scheduled Caste and the Dalit community) are not able to vote in the elections for the Legislative Assembly and Gram Sabhas, due to some restricting clauses in the J&K Constitution. They are also not allowed to pursue higher studies in J&K. They are however, eligible to vote in the Lok Sabha Elections. These people have since been fighting for their rights in vain, for more than 60 years.

Ranjan from Haryana, a researcher on J&K issues, says that there is no reservation for the SC/ST candidates in the Kashmir Valley region for the elections.  “The Government does not follow the reservation policies for SC/ST/OBC as followed in the other parts of India. Though J&K has more than 14% ST population, the state does not have any reservation for STs as provided in the Indian Constitution. Many of the important Indian constitutional provisions like fundamental rights, right to education, the Panchayat Raj, the Central RTI Act, are not applicable to J&K, due to Article 370”, Ranjan adds.

During the past 25 years, no films have been screened in the theatres of Kashmir valley, due to the presence of militants.  If a Kashmiri woman marries a person outside J&K, the spouse and the children are not eligible to vote in the elections for the Legislative Assembly. Although the Central Government provides per capita central funding to J&K  to the extent of more than 8 times as compared to the other states, there is no visible development in the State.  “Maladministration and corruption are mainly responsible for the siphoning of these central funds.  Only 50 families in the state are the beneficiaries”, adds Ranjan, with a sense of helplessness.

Militants and separatist organisations have been relentlessly trying to influence the people of Kashmir Valley. However, in the recent days, the people have started thinking about the need for development in the state.  Some of the separatist groups too have started feeling that integrating with India could provide them better opportunities. The excellent work done by the Indian Army during the recent floods, by saving thousands of lives, has given the people an inclination towards integrating with the rest of India.

Landmark Elections in 2002

The elections in the state upto 2002 were allegedly marked by rigging and violence in order to give an edge to some of the political outfits. Since 1988, the people behind the separatist movement threatened the voters against participating in the elections.  In this backdrop, the Legislative Assembly elections of 2002 and the Lok Sabha Election of 2004 were landmark elections in the history of J&K, setting the trend for future elections, with a virtual slap on the face of separatism. 
“There were many complaints about the conduct of the previous elections. Prior to 2002, the militants threatened the people against participating in the elections. They had even put up posters of the image of a coffin as a threat, to create fear.  The paramilitary and the army were deployed to sensitise the area and to remove the fear of the people. The people have realised that the Indian experience was better than the Pakistan experience. The turnout was more than 45%, which was a commendable record, considering the overall tense situation prevailing then.  It was a free, fair and transparent poll conducted in the presence of international media and foreign diplomats.  The then American Ambassador in India, Robert Blackwill commended India for her commitment to hold free, fair and inclusive elections in J&K without violence”, recalled T S Krishna Murthy exclusively to PreSense.  T S Krishna Murthy was then the Election Commissioner, who supervised the 2002 Assembly Elections, and later the Lok Sabha Elections in 2004 as Chief Election Commissioner.

Present Election

The Kashmir Valley region has 46 seats, the Jammu region has 37 seats and the Ladakh region has 4 seats.  Although the delimitation has been implemented in other parts of India, it is yet to be implemented in J&K.  Around 7 million voters will now be casting their votes to elect their new Government.  With the free, fair and transparent election process, the nation now awaits hopefully for the newly elected Government to resolve the problems of J&K.  It is very encouraging to see the voters enthusiastically participating in the elections, braving the threats by the extremists.  We hope the same enthusiasm will continue for integration of J&K with the rest of the nation.

By K Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

India – Pakistan war 1947 (Historical blunder 1)

When India and Pakistan were given independence in August 1947, the British Government gave the choice to the Princely States, existing then in the Indian sub-continent, to join either India or Pakistan. With the efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the then Home Minister, who was also known as the ‘Iron Man of India’, 566 Princely states (excepting 3 states) chose India.

Maharaja Hari Singh
Maharaj Hari Singh
At that time, Jammu & Kashmir State was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh (Father of Dr Karan Singh, a well known leader presently).  The state, with a majority of Muslims, was ruled by a Hindu King. The state consisted of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladak.  While the Kashmir Valley had a majority Muslim population, the people in Jammu and Ladak were mainly Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.  As he was under pressure from both India and Pakistan to accede to their Governments, he postponed his decision.

Pakistan invading India

Meanwhile, in October 1947, Pakistan organised a clandestine invasion of the State by a force of Pathan tribesmen, ex-servicemen and soldiers ‘on leave’. They broke out in Pooch in Southwest of Kashmir.  The Pakistan army gave them full support and back-up as  they wanted to capture Kashmir within a week.  Maharaja’s army could not withstand this sudden invasion.

Kashmir accedes to India

In the afternoon of 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh (photo) offered to accede to India and this was accepted by the then Governor General Lord Mountbatten on the following day.  Within a few hours, the Indian Army was sent to Kashmir valley to drive out invading tribal people and Pakistan army men.

Indian Army fighting back Pakistan

At that time, the Indian Army was under the control of the British officers and they had some technical problems in entering Kashmir to fight against the Pakistan army.  The Indian Army under the leadership of Major S K Singh (who later became the Governor of J & K State entered Kashmir Theatre.  In spite of bad weather, they managed to airlift the army men in 800 Dakota sorties from Delhi to Srinagar within a short time. `Lord Mountbatten recorded: “In my long experience of war, I have not come across another such massive airlift carried out so successfully.”

Sudden orders to cease fire

The Indian Army was highly successful in chasing out the invaders.  Had they continued for another week or a little more, they would have flushed them out completely. Meanwhile, the Indian Army got the orders to cease fire and to halt the advance to Muzaffarabad. The British Commander, Russell was surprised by the orders. He felt they were losing a golden opportunity. He was of the view that the Indian forces should advance to   Muzaffarabad and seal the border by securing the two bridges at Kohala and Domel. Sealing the entry points into Kashmir, he opined, would also relieve the pressure on the besieged forces in Poonch.

The then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took up the matter with the UN Security Council and under Resolution 47 of UN, ordered Pakistan to withdraw the troops for a free and fair ‘plebiscite’ in Jammu & Kashmir region.  Although Pakistan did not withdraw their troops from the J & K Region, the cease fire came into force from 1st Jan 1949.  

Was India’s  move an historical blunder?

Because of this, Pakistan occupied nearly 35% of the J & K Region ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, who acceded to India. This portion is still known as ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ and the problems continues till date.

According to the Army officers and the political leaders of that day, taking up Kashmir issue to UN by Pandit Nehru was a great ‘historical blunder’.  If the Indian Army  had continued the war for another week without declaring a unilateral cease fire, the Indian army would have flushed all the invaders out of the Indian territory and Kashmir would not have become a grave issue today.  The Indian Army site even records the event like this(

Quote: Before the remaining areas occupied by Pakistan could be liberated by Indian troops, a cease fire came into effect on 1 January 1949. After bitter fighting lasting 14 months, UN mediation brought about an uneasy truce. Unquote.

Since the majority of the Kashmiri people at that time were more keen on joining India, ‘plebiscite’ immediately after the flushing out invaders would have permanently resolved the Kashmir issue.  Instead the then Indian Government took this issue to UN for intervention, which complicated the problem further and it  remains unresolved till date.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Narendra Modi – Statesman cum Rock Star in Australia

The recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to Australia and other countries to participate in the G20 Summit has raised eyebrows of many international leaders. His speeches at the G20 Summit and the Australian Parliament has promoted the image of India among the world leaders.  After Obama, Modi was the much sought after leader for individual meetings by many leaders.

The visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Australia after 28 years has raised hopes among the Indian Australian community. Six hundred volunteers, mainly youth, worked for nearly two months non-stop to arrange the big event in Sydney, where Modi spoke.  More than 21,000 people attended the meeting, addressed by Modi in the evening of the 17th of November, 2014.  A special train named 'Modi Express' was run between Melbourne and Sydney to enable people to attend the Modi speech. Besides, a large number of native Australians too attended the event. Gujarati Muslims, dressed in traditional attire, were also present at the event. 

The following day, Modi had addressed 500 top  business leaders at  Melbourne. This event was organised by the Australia India Business Council. Accompanied by cricket legends like Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, and VVS Lakshman, he unveiled the ICC World Cup 2015 Trophy in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott at the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCG). 

During his visit to Australia, Modi generated the 'Modi Fever' among all including the media, in the entire country.  He presented to them a new vision of India that combines nationalism with modernity.  When Modi spoke, the world leaders listened to him.

The local media described Modi’s visit as a grand success. It is opined that even Obama’s visit did not create such an impact.  More than a political leader, he proved himself to a 'rock star', attracting the attention of everybody. 

On behalf of Primepoint blog, K. Srinivasan interviewed Prof. Murali Dharan, an Indian Australian, living in Sydney for more than 30 years. The interview was conducted through email. 

Prof. Murali is a senior Management Professor and also the Chair of the Education Industry Chapter of Australia India Business Council, which had organised Modi’s Melbourne meet with top business leaders.  

Q: This is the first time after 28 years that an Indian Prime Minister has visited Australia.  What is the feeling about this among the Indians there?

A:  All the Indians in Australia, both young and  old, awaited the Indian PM in
Australia for 28 years and  all were excited when he arrived. PM Modi is a man with a mission. He showed great leadership, friendship, common-touch and a great sense of humour, to capture the hearts and  minds of the Indians and the Australians in Australia. Every paper carried the news about him on the front page. Several of them described his visit as 'sensational', 'rock-star performance' etc. It is not just a mass popularity. Many  economic and business professionals too believe that he has struck the right agreements and partnerships to deliver great trade, business and other mutual benefits for people of India and Australia.

Q: There were many international leaders during that time.  What did the Australian Government and the people there feel about the visit of the Indian PM.  How did they view Modi?

A:  Modi is seen as a  special leader, since he represents  the largest democracy, the third largest economy  and  the emerging superpower.  Due to his charisma and  friendliness  with the Australian PM, Tony Abbott,  the Australian PM addressed Modi several times, using his first name, Narendra. The positive vibes between these leaders were reflected during their joint participation in the G20 sessions, joint sitting of the Parliament and the Melbourne Cricket Ground with cricketers.

Modi is seen as a great leader with a 'Can-Do' attitude, who can transform India, cut down bureaucracy and improve conditions. For instance, Modi announced that all Australians would get the Visa-On-Arrival, thus cutting down a major hurdle for many Australians wanting to visit India.

Modi also signed 5 major treaties, including a joint military and security cooperation treaty with Australia. This is a critical step in regional security, which could be aimed at containing China.

Q:  As a management professor, do you feel that this visit of the Indian PM will help improve the relations and trade between the two countries.  How does India stand to gain?

A: India should gain substantially from this visit, most definitely in the business, trade and investments by Indians. Several Indian business leaders accompanied Modi and engaged with their Australian counterparts. Indian students, arts and culture will stand to benefit immensely, with Modi promising to open an Indian Cultural Centre in Sydney by February, 2015. People to people engagements will increase considerably. Australian minerals, especially coal, gas, and uranium will provide the fuel to fire the engine of India's economy for several decades, delivering energy security for India. There is no doubt that skilled Indian youth will deliver services in all sectors of Australia for years to come. This is a win-win situation for both the countries.

Q: How do you rate Modi as a communicator, when compared to other international leaders?

A: He can be described as a practical Indian leader with the common touch but with the image of a rock-star abroad! A great communicator as he changes the pitch of his voice to the audience, he proved himself a great statesman in the Australian Parliament, while coming across as a common man when speaking to the Indian diaspora. He spoke about the day-to-day problems (peppered with lot of humour) and told how he intended to resolve them. As he stood with the Australian leaders, he was a visionary leader of 1.2 billion people!

Q: Can you describe your experience and feeling about Modi visit, in a single sentence?

A: Moment of great pride and transformation for India.

Please watch this rendering of the national anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana by 20,000 people at the Olympic Arena in Sydney. This was filmed by me with a small camera!

Prof. Murali Dharan can be reached at 

By K. Srinivasan Edited by Susan Koshy

Thursday, October 2, 2014

100 Days of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister

When a new Prime Minister or Chief Minister takes charge, their performance is generally not reviewed within 6 months to one year.  Ironically, in the case of Narendra Modi, the review of his performance started even before he assumed office. Modi’s poll campaign created high expectations among the people, so much so that people expected India’s problems of 65 years, to be solved within a day of his becoming Prime Minister.  In the first week of September 2014, Modi completed 100 days in office as the Prime Minister. Almost the entire media reviewed his 100 days’ performance.

On behalf of your ezine PreSense, we conducted a quick online/offline survey to assess how people perceived the ‘Modi Sarkar’ at the end of its 100 day rule. Nearly 70% of the respondents gave a rating of over 80% for his vision, governance and communication. So it seems that Modi continues to enjoy the confidence of the people.


The respondents were asked to indicate one single achievement of Modi’s governance that they considered outstanding. What stood out were his foreign policy initiatives, that is, the manner in which he got down quickly to build/rebuild relationships with foreign countries. His vision for the nation and commitment to  goals, use of technology in governance, his direct  communication with the citizens through the social media, and his ‘Make in India’ campaign were considered the great achievements of his first 100 days. Less government and more governance was his motto during the elections and it has now been amplified to effective governance.

When we interacted offline with some various groups, including political adversaries of Modi, they hailed his initiatives such as maintaining good relations with foreign countries and marketing India. Many appreciated his focus on increasing the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the GDP, to improve it from 16% to 25%.

A senior bureaucrat from Delhi told us on conditions of anonymity that he could see a sea change in the discipline of bureaucrats and other staff members.  He said ministers and officials got the uncanny feeling that they were being monitored by an ‘invisible eye’.

Another bureaucrat told us in confidence that though Modi’s experiences were drawn from a state administration, he understood the nuances of Central administration well and adapted himself very quickly.  He started clearing the stumbling blocks to good governance.  “We will be able to see the results of his governance within two years”, he added.

The leader of a political party admitted that Modi’s constant contact with the youth through the social media was his ‘master stroke’ that would produce long term gains.  A ruling party leader admitted that Modi had a huge back office of social media experts working on analysis of feedback received from the public. Thanks to his communication style, Modi has become an icon among the youth both in India and abroad.  He seems to galvanise the positive energies in people, including the youth, towards nation building activities.

Expectations Not Yet Fulfilled

In our study, we also asked the people about their unfulfilled expectations from Modi, and the issues that needed attention. Many of the respondents were of the view that Modi needed to focus more on the internal issues, such as price rise, power crisis and unemployment.   Many of them felt that the initiatives to curb corruption and repatriate black money from the Swiss banks were not visible, as promised during the election campaign. (Incidentally, Modi has set up a high-powered committee to devise ways and means to bring back money, siphoned out of the country by politicians and industrialists. The committee is to submit a report shortly to the government. Also, the Swiss banks have agreed in principle to share information about the source from which they receive funds).

One of the professors of a reputed institute confided that Modi should control some of his indiscreet party colleagues, spreading ‘hate messages’ while Modi was emphasising ‘inclusive growth and development’.

One of the main criticisms against Modi’s style of governance by his party members was that in the process of improving governance, Modi had distanced himself from the party leaders and cadre. Modi was known for his easy accessibility to all when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.   In the name of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’, he centralised the authoritative powers at the Prime Minister’s Office.  Quoting the recent setback because of the party’s poor performance in the bye-elections, party men feared that continued disconnect with the party cadre could adversely affect their political performance in the long run.

Modi and the Media

During the past ten years, Modi had faced a hostile media.  After assuming office as Prime Minister, Modi kept the mainline media away from his tours.  He advised his ministers and Members of Parliament to refrain from speaking to the media unnecessarily. The way things look now, Modi intends to focus more on performance than promises. Unlike his predecessors, Modi does not have a high profile media advisor but carried over his PA from Gujarat who doubles up as his media advisor.

He reportedly told leading editors in Delhi that he would directly get in touch with them if there was a major newsbreak.  Modi’s main mode of public communication is the social media. This style has evoked mixed reactions from the journalists.  

No doubt, 100 days is too short a period for a fair evaluation of Modi’s governance.  Cutting across party lines and age, the survey indicated that Modi has emerged as a ‘strong and dependable leader’ of India, the only one after Indira Gandhi.  He has inspired and ignited hope in the hearts of the Indian youth in India and abroad. A senior journalist said that Modi is among those rare leaders in the recent past who inspire confidence in the people.

Sum up

In spite of initial hiccups, Modi has already emerged as a leader of international stature, judging by his address at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York recently. He focused on issues of global importance such as water, sanitation, cleanliness and of course eradication of poverty and the united fight against terrorism caused by fissiparous elements regrouping themselves across the world. Modi told the world from the august podium of the UNGA that he was a leader to watch for, and diplomats have already started comparing him to international leaders like Kennedy and Thatcher, in the manner in which he looks at global issues and addresses them. Modi’s message against groupings, ‘G-8 or G-20 should actually give way to G-all’ emphasised that all nations should come together for a common goal of development instead of a group of rich nations determining the destiny of all. Diplomats have hailed this approach.

The industry back home and others in the politico socio cultural milieu claim he is the best bet for India and would lead the nation to greater heights and prosperity.  For this, he needs to be given more time and space and a free hand, sans impatient cynicism. Give him the allowance of a couple of years to effect the positive changes he wants to bring to the nation. The process of unwinding from a system of 65 years of bureaucratic cocoon takes time.

By K. Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense

Friday, August 1, 2014

CSAT - Civil Service Examination controversy

CSAT – Civil Service Exmination

In the last week of July 2014, IAS aspirants in North India went on a mass protest against the CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test), introduced as the second paper in  the preliminary examinations for the Civil Services.  This protest echoed in the Parliament, leading to adjournments.

Introduction of CSAT
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is an independent body that selects candidates to various positions in the Central Government. Earlier, the selection of suitable candidates to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and other allied services, were done at two levels, viz. the main examination and the interview.  Since several hundred thousand candidates applied for hundreds of posts, in 1979, UPSC introduced a three-level system to select the candidates.

A preliminary examination was conducted to select the candidates to the next level of screening, the main examinations.  Out of the number of candidates writing the preliminary examination, about twelve times the number of vacancies were selected for the main examination.

In 2014, about 8 hundred thousand candidates applied for the Civil Service examination. Usually, four to five hundred thousand candidates write the preliminary examination. Though not declared officially, there is an estimated 1200 vacancies. Nearly twelve times the vacancies, i.e. 15,000 candidates might be selected from the preliminary exam, to appear for the main examination.

Pattern of CSAT
In view of the growing number of IAS aspirants, and the challenges faced in the administration, UPSC altered the format of the preliminary examination by including a paper labelled ‘CSAT’ (Civil Service Aptitude Test) to test the seven critical skills as comprehension, interpersonal skills, logical reasoning/analytical ability, problem solving/decision making, mental ability, basic numeracy and data interpretation.  This paper is set in the English language level of Standard Ten.  There would be 80 objective-type questions for 200 marks.  The candidates need to tick the correct answer from the options.

The Hindi translation is also provided under each question, so that the candidates can answer either in English or in Hindi. Just 8 questions (out of 80) test the simple comprehension skill of the candidate in English. For these 8 questions, no Hindi translation is provided.  Incidentally, only graduates are eligible to appear for the Civil Service Examination.

The CSAT paper was introduced in 2011 and UPSC has already run this examination thrice under this new system.

Controversy and Objections
v  The Hindi belt students argue that the translation into Hindi is of a higher standard.  According to them, people with the knowledge of the English language have an advantage.  They allege an unfair level-playing field between the rural and the urban students.

v  The non-Hindi speaking students argue that the paper provides only the Hindi translation.  Non-Hindi speaking students, who are not comfortable with English, are unable to depend on Hindi as their Hindi-speaking counterparts could.  They complain that the Hindi-speaking candidates have undue advantage of the Hindi translation.

They in turn, allege that there is no level-playing field between the Hindi-speaking and non Hindi-speaking candidates and that this is discrimination. They demand translation in all the 22 approved Regional Languages.

This problem had cropped up on an earlier occasion.  The previous Government (UPA) had then set up a 3-member committee to examine the issue.  It may be noted that UPSC is an independent body and is not under the control or aegis of the Central Government.  The Union Minister has announced that he would request UPSC to postpone the exam. Technically, this appears improbable to happen.

Perceptions of Different People
Priya, an IAS aspirant, says that the new system does test the aptitude of the candidates, instead of the ‘mugging up’ (learning by rote) practice.  As a South Indian candidate, she feels it is biased towards the Hindi-speaking candidates and she questions why Hindi translation should be given for an English paper.  She questions why an IAS-aspirant, who cannot understand even a Tenth Standard level of English, should aspire to join the Civil Service.

Shankar, who runs a well-known academy of coaching for IAS, says the urban candidates and IIT/IIM graduates find the CSAT examination paper far easier than the others.  He also feels that the current format of the question paper is advantageous for the Hindi-speaking students besides the science and engineering graduates.  

R. Nataraj, former Director General of Police and former Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission,   says the IAS aspirants need to have an aptitude for problem-solving and decision-making, and a basic knowledge of the English language.  He says the selection process cannot be conducted according to the candidates’ terms, but has to be designed to suit the changing requirements of the employment sector.  He makes a clear distinction between election and selection.  While the politicians who are elected can be removed after their term, the selected officials cannot be removed during their service. Hence, he feels the selection has to be carried out carefully, so that most suitable and meritorious candidates get selected through a selection process which offers a level playing field to the aspirants.

With the impending elections in the Hindi belt and other states, there would be more political pressure on UPSC to dilute the quality of the selection process for the top civil service posts. Few will have the courage to stand by the demand for upholding high standards of the candidates, to equip them to meet the global standard. They fear being accused of being ‘anti poor’ and ‘anti rural’.

The Only Solution – Let the Candidate Prepare His Own Question Paper and Write the Examination!

(With tongue in cheek) The only solution to the problem is to permit the candidates to set their own question papers on subjects they are comfortable with, in their preferred language, and write the answers to those self-selected questions in the examination hall.

This way, UPSC would not have to worry about setting the question paper and can save on printing costs.  Depending on the other parameters, additional marks also can be given to satisfy all the stakeholders.

By K. Srinivasan

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Know about Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - Their role in General Elections 2014

RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagawat
RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagawat
RSS Involvement in Elections

Recently, Ram Madhav, a senior leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) confirmed to the media, their involvement in the recent Parliamentary Elections to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister.  Generally, RSS does not compete in the elections and does not share power.  Ram Madhav further  confirmed that this was the second time that RSS had totally involved their cadre in the election strategies. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed the active involvement of RSS in his victory.  When Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975, RSS was banned and more than 10,000 RSS workers were arrested. During the 1977 General Elections, RSS worked at the ground level to defeat Indira Gandhi. During that time, the Janata Party won 345 seats out of 543 seats and formed the Government. Though RSS is an apolitical organisation, they involved their cadre to restore democracy in 1977, Ram Madhav said. 

After 26 years, RSS recently involved their cadre again to bring a change of Government, when the nation was facing large scale corruption, policy paralysis and lack of leadership. Congress made public statements that the electoral fight was between Congress and RSS. Interestingly, NDA won 336 seats in the Lok Sabha.  RSS is known to work from behind and not publicising their achievements, however significant they might be. 

RSS – Background

RSS was founded by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 with the intention of promoting the concept of a united India and to promote indigenous ideology.  They drew inspiration from social and spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Aurobindo.  Their cadre was also active during the freedom movement.

RSS conducts a daily one-hour ‘Shakha’ (training) of yoga, physical exercise and games for their members to develop their spirit of nationalism and patriotism.  It is reported that around 5,500 full-time workers (pracharaks) manage the RSS.  Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Narendra Modi started their public service as pracharaks.  It is also estimated that around 50,000 shakhas are held every day throughout India, with the participation of nearly 800,000 to 1,000,000 volunteer members, belonging to various castes and professions, without any discrimination of status. 

The RSS network has more than 30 sister organisations, viz. Sangh Parivar, which includes the political wing BJP, India’s largest trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (11 million membership), India’s largest student union, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP with 2,200,000 members), Vidya Bharathi (running 13,500 schools with 3 million students), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (2 million members), Muslim Rashtriya Manch (1 million members), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and many others.   RSS spreads the message of patriotism and nationalism in all the districts of the country through these organisations. 

The current chief of RSS (Sarsanghchalak) Dr. Mohanji Bhagwat is the 7th chief after the launch of RSS and he is the mentor for all the Sangh Parivar organisations.

Rescue Operations during Crises

The RSS cadre is known for its rescue operations during disaster situations like the Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Tsunami in 2004 and the Uttarkhand disaster in 2013.
RSS in Republic Day parade in 1963

In 1962, the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had requested RSS to assist the Government in various assignments during the Sino-Indian War.  As a gesture of goodwill, in 1963, Pandit Nehru invited RSS to participate in the Republic Day parade at New Delhi.  Again in 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, RSS was requested by the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri to take care of the law and order and the traffic in Delhi, so that the policemen could be spared for war duties.  Even during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, RSS cadre helped the authorities to maintain law and order in various states. 

When Gandhiji visited a 1500-strong RSS camp at Wardha in 1934, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the Swayamsevaks were not even aware of the castes of one another, not to speak of any ideas of untouchability. The visit left such a deep impression on Gandhiji’s that he referred to it thirteen years later.


The RSS, with its paramilitary style of functioning and its emphasis on discipline and nationalism, is sometimes seen by some as "an Indian version of fascism". When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, an ex-member of RSS, the Nehru Government banned RSS for the first time in February 1948.  Justice Kapur Commission was set up to enquire into the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.  Justice Kapur observed that RSS was not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.  The Government lifted the ban in July 1949 with the condition that RSS should adopt a constitution.  

RSS was again banned in 1975 during Emergency and the ban was lifted in 1977. 

Confused Perception about RSS due to Lack of PR

RSS, as a matter of policy, does not display any reaction to bouquets or brickbats. Thus, even misleading and wrong  information about RSS go undefended. This leads to confused perceptions about it.   Even for writing this article, I had to struggle to get information as they do not have any professional Public Relations set-up, to share their positive achievements and services to the nation. 

By K Srinivasan, Editor In Chief,PreSense

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