OPINION

Monthly Archives: APRIL 2018


25 YEARS OF PANCHAYAT RAJ ACT
WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?
23.04.18 - Dr. Pyara Lal Garg
WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?



TIME MOVES ON, uninterrupted, unaffected by the happenings around. Days, months and years pass by. Just as this 24th day of April, too, will become yesterday in 24 hours. It happens every year.  Why then is it so special this time for the common rural populace but remains a mere ritual for the powers that be? 

This is the day when the provisions of the mandate of the 73rd Constitutional amendment by way of insertion of new part IX to Article 243 and the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution of India , came into force in 1993 —the 43rd year of the Republic of India. 

At the time of enactment it was envisaged and drafted as a game changer in favour of the common man and as an instrument of extension of the institution of democracy to the grass root level, a second attempt after the right to vote by way of universal adult franchise, for empowerment of people by entitling them to participate in shaping the country not only as a voter but also as an active actor in the process of decision making and implementation, an attempt to make them not only the ruled but also the ruler, to give legal shape to the heritage of Sangat being above the Guru.

However, due to lack of political and administrative will, this Panchayati Raj Act has remained merely a paper exercise with the honourable exceptions of a few very fine and encouraging examples.
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The lackadaisical attitude of the government, the elected leaders, the non-formal leaders and the intelligentsia towards this game changing statute is jarring.
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One can quote the decision of the tribals of Niyamgiri hills in Orissa, where the Dongia Kondh tribe pushed the powerful Vedanta group out of their Bauxite rich area. In the same vein, the people of village Lobana in District Patiala dared to undo the forced resolution which was the doing of the BDO and a result of deception. Finally, the government had to distribute more than 100 plots to the homeless landless instead of allotting 25 acre of village shamlat for the stray cattle. Similarly, the people of village Tamkot in District Mansa have run their affairs as per the Constitutional norms and even won the national level prize for implementation of the Panchayat Act.

The lackadaisical attitude of the government, the elected leaders, the non-formal leaders and the intelligentsia towards this game changing statute is jarring. The wealth and income disparity in the country as well as in the state of Punjab is on the rise. A handful of the wealthy elite are cornering the riches, pushing the vast majority into abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment/underemployment, disease and squalor. 

The benefit of welfare schemes does not percolate to the needy while stooges of the politically connect prey like vultures. The political field is badly plagued by the force of kinship, money and muscle.

IS THERE A WAY OUT? Indeed, there is.

The Panchayat elections are conducted only when a village/ area stands duly notified as GRAM SABHA AREA in accordance with the provisions of the Panchayat Act. Each voter of the Gram Sabha Area is automatically the member of the Gram Sabha as provided under section 4 (2) of the Panchayat Act.  

The Gram Sabha is nothing but the village parliament. It is empowered to pass the budget and estimate the income and expenditure as well as draft the development plan for the next financial year. This plan is prepared by the Panchayat and presented to the Gram Sabha during the Sauni meeting, that is the general meeting to be held in December. Similarly, the Gram Sabha in its Haari general meeting, that is the general meeting in June, shall examine and review the account statements prepared by the Panchayat and placed before the Gram Sabha. It shall also evaluate the progress and performance of the development activities of the village. 

It is patently clear from the Act that the development plan and the budget prepared by the Panchayat or by the Panchayat Samiti has to be presented before the Gram Sabha and has to be got passed in the Sauni General Meeting of the Gram Sabha. As such all experts and officials/officers preparing the development plan and the budget are answerable to the Gram Sabha in this matter. This is what the Panchayat Act does — gives real power to the people.  
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Panchayats have metamorphosed into constitutional entities and draw their powers from the Constitution of India. The Panchayat Act empowers rural voters to actively participate in planning, budgeting, execution and supervision of all development activities, identification of beneficiaries under various welfare schemes and effective functioning of government institutions/facilities in the concerned Gram Sabha Area.
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WHAT CAN THE GRAM SABHA DO?

Gram Sabha is empowered to identify all the beneficiaries of various welfare schemes of the Central and the State Government. So Gram Sabha can: 

Enlist genuine names eligible for old age, widow, orphan, handicapped pension scheme. 

Enlist the eligible beneficiaries for the 5 marla plots to landless homeless households

Enlist the eligible beneficiaries for construction of toilets

Enlist all the eligible beneficiaries under MGNREGA out of landless and those with land up to 5 acres of land and can get their job cards issued.

Can identify village common land that has been encroached upon and can get it vacated.

Can hold open public auction of village common land for highest bidder and can also ensure leasing of 1/3rd of it for the bonafide Scheduled Caste members 

Identify the repair and construction works required to be done under MGNREGA and get them completed under its supervision like repair of Anganwadis, schools, panchayat ghars, de-addiction centres , common public buildings, making all weather gravel roads, water courses etc.

Identify the fruit and shadow /timber trees for plantation on village common land and can manage the care and sale of the fruit and timber to Gram Sabha Members at subsidised rates.

Can identify and manage sowing and sale of vegetable on village common land.

Can manage rain water harvesting and thus help to raise the water table and save the people from extra expenditure on deepening of tubewells.

Can engage MGNREGA workers on compost preparing from solid and liquid domestic waste and agriculture waste like paddy straw and, thus, prevent environmental pollution by providing alternative to paddy and wheat straw burning.

Can engage MGNREGA workers for vermicompost and thus move towards natural manure

Can instal and manage community Biogas Plants and thus provide cooking gas to Gram Sabha members and protect the environment, too.

Can cleanse ponds and manage them for rain and kitchen water collection, use them also for pisciculture. 
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The wealth and income disparity in the country as well as in the state of Punjab is on the rise. The benefit of welfare schemes does not percolate to the needy while stooges of the politically connect prey like vultures. 
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THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

All rivers of Punjab stand polluted, the water of Ghaggar has plunged to ‘E’ class from ‘D’ right from Jharmal river up to Sardoolgarh. That of River Satluj has become ‘D’ class at Budha Nala confluence and ‘E’ Class at ‘East Bein’ confluence. Even the water of Ravi has degraded from ‘A’ class at Madhopur headworks to ‘B’ Class in the last five years.   
 
As per a study conducted by Sushil Gupta, Regional Director of the Central Ground Water Board, the ground water of Punjab is depleting very fast. A whopping 78% area of the state is over exploited, comprising 103 community development blocks while the situation is critical in 5 blocks and semi-critical in another four blocks. The soil is also getting barren and the process of desertification has set in due to depletion of ground water level. 
 
The forest cover in the state has come down to just 4.85% of the total area as per figures of 2015-16, whereas the normal cover for eco-economics must be varying from 16% to 33% from area to area and climatic zone to climatic zone. All education and health statistics have dwindled down drastically. As per the figures thrown up by the Socio-economic and Caste Census, 58% of the adults in in Rural Punjab have not crossed fifth standard while 33% are totally illiterate. The state has only 3.02% graduates in rural areas, way below the national average. 

In the health domain, the NHFS IV data of 2015-16 depicts that the rate of anaemia has increased very fast. While 38% of the women were reported anaemic during 2005, the percentage of anaemic women has increased by 15.5%. That means more than half (53.5%) of the women are now anaemic. Hepatitis C has become an epidemic. During the last two years, till April 13, 2018, there were 43,944 cases under treatment. 

The disease has spread its tentacles in the Malwa region and the adjoining district of Tarn Taran. Out of these 43,944 cases, 31,024 have been reported from 10 districts of Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa , Bathinda, Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar, Fazilka , Ferozepur and Tarn Taran. Similarly, in the last six years, till March 14, 2018, under the Punjab Chief Minister’s Cancer Relief Fund, the facility has been availed in 47,279 cancer cases.
-----------
The political field is badly plagued by the force of kinship, money and muscle.
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The gap in wealth and income is also really frightening. The top 1% in India possess 58% of the wealth while the top 10% have 79% of the wealth. They get the major share of total annual income of the country, too. Last year, 73% of the income was pocketed by the top 1% super rich. The state has 31.94% population of the Scheduled Castes. A majority of them, especially the Valmikis, have not been able to reap the benefit of reservation. It is estimated that around 98% of the SC population has not been able to get any benefit of reservation.  Education in government schools, especially in rural areas, is in doldrums and the children studying in government primary schools mostly come from scheduled castes, backward classes or very poor of other castes. Among 11,11,222 students in Primary Schools, 7,06,263 (63.56%) are from Scheduled Castes. Their education has been adversely affected by the indiscipline, absenteeism, lack of interest, misdistribution of teachers, lack of books, etc. 

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE PANCHAYAT ACT? 

On April 24, the Panchayat Act became effective throughout the length and breadth of the country — everywhere, in the hills and the plains, islands and mainland, among tribals and non tribals. Under this Act, enacted in compliance of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, the Panchayats have metamorphosed into constitutional entities and draw their powers from the Constitution of India. 

The Panchayat Act has empowered the rural voters to actively participate in planning, budgeting, execution and supervision of Development activities, identification of beneficiaries under various welfare schemes, effective functioning of government institutions/facilities in the concerned Gram Sabha area. In fact, this is a quantum jump in the empowerment of people from being mere voters or electors to be the rulers.  
-----------
The lackadaisical attitude of the government, the elected leaders, the non-formal leaders and the intelligentsia towards this game changing statute is jarring.
-----------
THE POSSIBLE IMPACT:

An annual income of Rs. 40,000/- per landless household and farmers with land up to 5 acre. The same shall solve day to day problem of cash and shall reduce farmers’ and farm labours’ suicides.

The provision of cheap and easily locally available vegetables and seasonal fruits at an affordable cost shall provide nutrients; the anaemia shall be treated and prevalence of diseases shall come down due to increased immunity.

Individual indebtedness due to expenditure on disease shall decrease due to lessening of the overall disease burden and also due to the decrease in man-days lost on account of illness.

The trees and the rain water harvesting shall be helpful in raising the ground water level and thus save the expenditure on deepening of tubewells.

Increased income of the village and the management and better upkeep of public use buildings can dissuade people from the Marriage Palace Culture and save them money. 

Gram Sabha by ensuring proper functioning of government institutions and functionaries can ensure improvement in the delivery of education, health care, animal care and childcare services.

Transparent, democratic, accountable functioning shall lead to leadership development among common people and reduce the role of money and muscle power.

If consensus is generated that elections up to Zila Parishads are not to be contested on party symbols, then the unity of the people shall be the likely outcome.

Forest cover shall increase, environment shall improve and biodiversity is likely to be preserved. 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

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SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

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WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

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APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

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SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

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Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


 
        




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OUTRAGE & CONCRETE ACTION FOR REFORM
RAPE CULTURE: Only a detailed diagnosis will help to treat the disease
21.04.18 - AGAYATIKA DEB
RAPE CULTURE: Only a detailed diagnosis will help to treat the disease



A FEMALE FRIEND, who has been practising as a gynecological surgeon for nearly 40 years in India and abroad has been following the recent revival of outrage against what has begun to be called the rape culture of India, asks, almost in despair: 

The news from India on incidents and statistics of rapes and gang rapes makes for truly horrifying reading… very somber, sad and upsetting, it touches the core of one's soul. How has the Indian Psyche descendent into such depths of depravity? 

I told her that I have been doing my best to analyze it, as have scores of psychologists, sociologists, journalists, social workers, policy makers, law makers, artists, writers, intellectuals and scholars as well as common citizens. 
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The entire dynamics of political, economic, caste, communal and gender equations needs to be overhauled completely. Let our outrage turn into concrete action for reform.
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As a common citizen, here are some factors that I have tried to analyze 

1. Lack of education particularly lack of healthy friendly well formulated sex education in family contexts at home and at school for the young , including children and young adults, in a hypocritically inhibited and repressed society is one factor that comes to mind. It is not just the scientific facts of sexual life but the emotional, ethical, and social aspects of sexuality and sexual behaviour that need to be discussed by responsible people like parents, guardians and teachers with young children and teenagers and young adults in an open and compassionate manner, instead of which we see a hypocritical silence, avoidance of responsibility, prevalence of myths and fetishes and rituals and unscientific superstitions that surround the subject.
 
Sexual variance, deviance or disease is hardly ever discussed in healthy and open ways due to which many sexual,  psychological, and psychosexual diseases go untreated .The more taboos we attach to sexual behaviour, the more taboos end up being outrageously broken: say the taboo on incest or infanophilia or pedophilia: all these are being widely and almost spectacularly outraged in today's India, adding to the social outcry but failing to bring us to a scientific analysis and effective solution to the epidemic of inhuman behaviour around us. 

2. Falling sex ratios due to systematic female foeticide have created a clearly visible problem of availability of women of marriageable age in some North Indian States like Haryana, Punjab, parts of UP and Rajasthan. Many kinds of deviant sexual behaviour among adult males can be seen in these areas.
 
Men in Migrant populations and men in the armed forces or the paramilitary forces who stay away from families for long periods also show deviant sexual behaviour, especially the armed forces while dealing with minority or SC ST populations, where the labels "extremist" "naxalite" "separatist" are easily bandied about and an obnoxious "nationalist" label is put on their behaviour to keep it shrouded by hushing up or brutally suppressing all attempts to complain about it or even to indirectly justify it. AFSPA gives them immunity from rigorous scrutiny in some parts of the country where they have raped women and children on a mass scale with impunity.

3. Traditional Indian Patriarchy and misogyny reinforced by the heavily corporate and NRI financed propagation of Regressive RSS Hindutva ideology reinforced by the political power of the BJP, a similar pattern among Muslims via Madrassas financed by Saudi Arabia, Iran or even ISI, among Sikhs by Akalis or Khalistani groups again with heavy foreign funding, among Christians especially of the new fetishist exorcising, rock - music swaying, Charismatic variety of so called Christian cults, and the new age singing dancing rapist Babas and procuress Maa and Mata types, have formed a heady mix of immoral tendencies disguised as religion or spirituality or ethical Gurudom - which only ends up giving more impunity to rape.

4. Part of it has to do with easy internet access to porn of the most perverted paedophilic and infantophilic sort, revenge porn, porn with communal and racist tags- this is such a widespread addiction that it has reached every household and every age group: children as young as 6 or 7 raping infants are clearly showing imitative behaviour from what they have seen in real life or on audiovisual media, repeatedly or been themselves subjected to.

5. Rape of women, children of all sexes, transgenders, people in conflict situations, people in police custody or in jails,  patients in hospitals, Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, wives, sex workers, show that violent and forcible sex is used as a tool of domination, as an outlet for hatred, as a method of subjugation, as a means of revenge and the increasing insertion of cutting, penetrating, hurtful, damaging and even lethal objects into genitals is a reflection of either compensatory behaviour for  impotence or sadomasochism or both. 
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The recurrent images of war violence and depravity around us, many a times shrouded in the respectable garb of art or entertainment also lead to the development of rape culture.
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6. The primitive and tantrik beliefs about restoration or increase of libido and potency through sex with virgins, the younger the better, is also behind the epidemic of child rape.

7. Drug and drink addiction which make people at least temporarily oblivious of the consequences of their actions are further aggravating factors that are contributing to rape culture in our country.

8. Most of all, it can be seen as an expression of a very fundamental insecurity frustration and hopelessness with a strong proclivity for violent behaviour among people who see the darkness of the world around them and are aware consciously or subconsciously of an even darker and fear- inducing future, which they are unable to face and from which they seek relief through violent depravity or depraved violence.

This is artificially induced and misdirected libido in the sort of personality which has completely lost faith trust and confidence in the ability to love and be loved in return. 

For the rapist the act of rape is either an act of relief for pent up often artificially induced or enhanced libido or a form of revenge dominance and expression of anger or a permutation or combination of more than one of these factors.

9. The violence in society and polity around us, the rape of the Earth and of Nature, the obscene exhibitionism of the rich and pampered, especially the super- rich or the nouveau riche, the recurrent images of war violence and depravity around us, many a times shrouded in the respectable garb of art or entertainment also lead to the development of rape culture.

10. The breaking up of joint families and the breakdown of family values in a healthy sense rather than in contexts of traditional patriarchy is another contributing factor towards growth of deviant and violent sexual behaviour in India.
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Drug and drink addiction which make people at least temporarily oblivious of the consequences of their actions are further aggravating factors that are contributing to rape culture in our country.
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11. Repeated baying for blood of rapists obfuscates the need for patiently analysing the causes behind this alarming epidemic of rapes gang rapes child rapes and infant rapes in the country and the long term as well as short term measures that need to be taken to put an end to this menace. 

The hard examination has to be done by every individual and the hard work too has to be done by each one of us, by every household and every family that makes up society. Only then can we assure efficiency and accountability of the institutions we have built over time to keep us safe from such heinous crimes including our legislature, our judiciary our police and our administrative machinery. 

Our entire social hygiene needs to be improved if we are to root out the menace of rape.

The entire dynamics of political, economic, caste, communal and gender equations needs to be overhauled completely.

Let our outrage turn into concrete action for reform.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


 




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The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine
US computer scientists expose EVM manipulation techniques
21.04.18 - Mala Jay
US computer scientists expose EVM manipulation techniques



ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES (EVMs) can indeed be rigged. Contrary to the Election Commission of India’s stonewalling and denials, new research and experiments by American computer scientists have established that electronic voting systems can be manipulated in a variety of ways.

Some of the new evidence has been published in a New York Times article ‘The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine’, which provides startling details backed by technical findings and expert interviews.

The intense research being conducted in America is due to domestic controversies about whether the 2016 presidential election was free and fair. However, the insights into EVM vulnerability are both relevant and timely for India.

Many political analysts are convinced that the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would hinge not so much on the mood of the electorate but on whether polling is conducted through EVMs or the old system of paper ballots and manual counting of votes.

Although this might appear to be needlessly suspicious or cynical, the latest US research indicates that blind trust in EVMs might be misplaced.

Opposition parties in India would, therefore, be well advised to redouble their efforts to demand paper balloting in the 2019 elections by confronting the election body with the latest technical research and findings of globally renowned computer scientists and experts.

Whenever allegations of EVM manipulation have been raised, the Election Commission has invariably come out with two standard assertions: one, that the machines used in India are fully secure and tamper-proof; and two, that the EVMs are "stand-alone” devices unconnected to the Internet and hence immune from remote interference.

Both these claims can now be challenged. The third argument that the machines used in Indian elections are manufactured under strict supervision by reputed public sector enterprises can also no longer be accepted at face value for two reasons: a) recent Right to Information data has thrown up troubling questions about the logistics of EVM transport and distribution; and b) the US findings point to potential for serious mischief at the manufacturing stage itself.


SOME OF THE STARTLING FINDINGS:

1. Technology analyst Kim Zetter, who has won four awards for her writing on how e-voting affects democracies, has collated facts and figures to cast series doubts about the reliability of EVMs even when attached to a paper verification unit.

2. Professor David A Eckhardt of Carnegie Mellon University was asked by election authorities in Pennsylvania to examine complaints of "vote flipping”—meaning that when some voters touched the screen to choose a candidate, the screen showed a different candidate selected. Eckhardt found to his surprise that remote-access software had been installed on the machines, which were supposed to be "air-gapped” — disconnected from the internet and other machines that might be connected to the internet.

3. Several reports by independent computer scientists pointed to a shocking and categorical conclusion—that despite claims by authorities nearly every make and model of voting machine is vulnerable to hacking. One reason for this is that the systems were not originally designed with robust security in mind. Just as in India, the tendency in America has been for voting machine manufacturers and election officials to stoutly deny that the machines can be remotely hacked. EVMs are tamper-proof, say the election officials. Voting machines are stand-alone devices, EC repeats for the umpteenth time. It is impossible to send outside signals through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The frightening reality, as the new findings show, is far more complicated.

4. The top US manufacturer, ES&S, has admitted that it has sometimes sold its election-management system with remote-access software preinstalled. Even when such software was not preloaded, the company advised election officials to install it so that ES&S technicians could remotely access the systems via modem. Computer experts now say that Installing remote-access software and modems on systems that program voting machines and tally final results is undoubtedly a serious security issue.

To quote a spokesperson of the National Election Defense Coalition in the US, "It is a lie to assert that voting machines or voting systems can’t be hacked by remote attackers because they are ‘not connected to the internet’. There is no doubt whatsoever that use of voting machines should be stopped—all voting systems must use paper ballots and all elections must be robustly audited”. The time has come for all those who want free and fair elections in India to forcefully say the same thing. Whether Opposition parties succeed in forging a joint front or not is not as critically important as coming together and demanding in one voice the reintroduction of paper ballots
5. But there is an even more fundamental way that many voting machines themselves are being connected to the Internet and put at risk of hacking. The beauty of it is that even election officials at the state or central level are usually unaware the risk exists. After voting is over, booth level election officials transmit the vote count to their state election offices via modems embedded in or connected to their voting machines. The election authorities insist that the modem transmissions are safe because the connections go over phone lines and not the Internet.

But, as security experts point out, many of the modems are cellular, which use radio signals to send calls and data to cell towers and routers belonging to mobile carriers — in India these are Airtel, Vodafone, etc. These routers are technically part of the internet. Even when landline analog modems are used instead of cellular ones, the calls are still likely pass through other routers, because phone companies have replaced much of their analog switching equipment in recent years with digital systems.

Because of this, potential hackers can easily intercept unofficial results as they’re transmitted on election night — or, worse, they can use the modem connections to reach back into election machines at either end and install malware or alter election software and the actual votes cast.

6. There are other ways too. An expert hacker can subvert the telecom routers themselves to intercept and alter election results as they pass through telecom equipment. Like any other digital device, telecom routers have vulnerabilities, and they have become a prime target. For example, a few years ago, hackers from Britain’s official spy agency targeted routers belonging to the Belgian telecom Belgacom to intercept mobile traffic passing through them.

To quote a spokesperson of the National Election Defense Coalition in the US, "It is a lie to assert that voting machines or voting systems can’t be hacked by remote attackers because they are ‘not connected to the internet’. This isn’t just wrong, it’s damaging. This oft-repeated myth instills a false sense of security in the minds of the public, the parties and the officials. This complacency inhibits urgent action. There is no doubt whatsoever that use of voting machines should be stopped—all voting systems must use paper ballots and all elections must be robustly audited”.

The time has come for all those who want free and fair elections in India to forcefully say the same thing. Whether Opposition parties succeed in forging a joint front or not is not as critically important as coming together and demanding in one voice the reintroduction of paper ballots.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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Role Reversal: BJP backs corrupt while Cong hits it on Hindutva
09.04.18 - VIPIN PUBBY
Role Reversal: BJP backs corrupt while Cong hits it on Hindutva



THE ENSUING ASSEMBLY elections in the Congress-ruled Karnataka are obviously critical for both the Congress and the BJP during the run up to the general elections but their desperation to win the elections, the two main rivals are taking extreme steps which have dangerous portents for the society and the nation.

While the Congress has sought to divide the society on religious grounds by raking up the issue of Lingayats and seeking minority status for the community, the BJP has gone ahead and announced its chief ministerial candidate who was earlier removed by it on charges of corruption and irregularities. Evidently the Congress is trying to torpedo the BJP agenda while the BJP is compromising with what it had been campaigning against.

Congress chief minister and the party’s chief ministerial candidate Siddaramaiah has, obviously with an eye on the election, recommended that the Lingayat community be declared a minority. It is undoubtedly an astute move as the Lingayats, who constitute 17 per cent of the voters, and are known to be BJP supporters.

Accepting recommendations of the State Minority Commission, the Siddaramaiah Government sent a communication to the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23 seeking recognition of Lingayats and Veerashaivas, who follow Basavanna’s teachings, as a religious minority under section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992. Lingayats, who are considered a Hindu sect because they share several beliefs with Hindu religion, have been demanding a minority status as they don’t believe in the authority of the Vedas, the caste system and the Hindu concepts of reincarnation and karma.
----------
It was a clever political move by the Congress to have thrown the ball in BJP’s court. The BJP president Amit Shah has now responded that his party would oppose the move but it is clear that the party has been put on the back foot over the issue.
----------
If Lingayats are given the status of a minority, several others like the Arya Samaj, Radhaswami, Vaishnava and other sects of the Hinduism which do not adhere to typical Brahminical Hinduism, would also demand minority status. That militates against the Hindutva agenda of the BJP which has been trying to consolidate Hindus and associating nationalism and patriotism with it.

It was a clever political move by the Congress to have thrown the ball in BJP’s court. The BJP president Amit Shah has now responded that his party would oppose the move but it is clear that the party has been put on the back foot over the issue. Since the minority status can only be granted by the central government, the blame or otherwise would be squarely with the BJP. Although it is unlikely to take such a call before the Assembly elections, it has emerged as a major issue in the state. The Lingayats are believed to be an important factor in about 100 of the 232 Assembly constituencies.

Besides the stirring of the controversy relating to Lingayats, the Congress is also trying to strengthen its own "Hindutva agenda”. Party president Rahul Gandhi has been feverishly visiting mitts and temples across the state, as he did in Gujarat, to prove to be more loyal than the King.

On the other hand, BJP has declared a former chief minister B S Yediyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate. He is the same person who was removed as chief minister by the BJP on alleged charges of corruption. Slighted by the BJP he had floated his own party called Karnataka Janata Party which bagged 9.79 per cent votes in the 2013 Assembly elections. These votes would have otherwise gone to the BJP but the shift of votes was enough to damage the BJP and had helped Congress to regain power.

Although all elections, whether to Lok Sabha, Assemblies and civic bodies, have their own dynamics, the nation’s eyes are now fixed on the Karnataka elections because of the high stakes involved. The contest is all the most exciting as the ruling Congress and the challenger BJP are believed to be evenly placed.
---------
Wresting power in Karnataka would be a big morale booster for the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections in the major states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh held by it. A victory can open for it the gateway to the South, which together accounts for 131 Lok Sabha seats, and make it a pan India party.
---------
For the Congress, which had virtually given up even before the race began in the north eastern states or even Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand before that, there is a ray of hope for retaining power and that is translating into a spirited fight. This determination and effort was last seen during the Gujarat Assembly elections where the party was able to give a scare to the well-entrenched BJP.

Karnataka is the largest of the three states in the country that currently has a Congress flag fluttering. A loss here would be virtually the last nail in its coffin. The other comparatively big state in its kitty, Punjab, is there despite the central leadership of the party. The new party president Rahul Gandhi had made only a half-hearted attempt in elections in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Instead he has been concentrating on Karnataka and has extensively toured the state, including numerous temples and mutts.

So has BJP chief Amit Shah, the chief architect of his party’s "ashwamedh yagya” in three main regions of the country. The party already has significant presence in the state. It is the only southern state which the party had ever won – that was in the 2008 Assembly elections – with the help of independents.

But what must cause concern for the Congress is the fact that the state has not returned the ruling party to power since 1985. Also the fact that the BJP has done exceedingly well in 2014 Lok Sabha elections winning 17 of the 28 seats from the state and cornering 43.37 per cent of the vote share. It had managed to score more votes in 132 of the 224 Assembly segments which was much ahead of the half way figure of 113 seats needed to win Assembly elections.

Significantly, the Congress too had not fared badly as far as vote percentage was concerned. It had also bagged 41.15 per cent of vote share although it won only nine seats. It is also important to point out here that the party had never won less than 35 per cent votes in any elections in the state.
----------
Whoever wins Karnataka, the one unmistakable fact emerging is that politics is back to its old ways. The BJP’s endorsement of a person it once accused of corruption suggests that ‘real politik’ has forced it to abandon its lofty mission while Congress has brought back divide and divide further to gain power.
----------
Thus the two main rivals are evenly poised and the run up to the elections is likely to be eventful and a game of nerves.
 
Wresting power in Karnataka would be a big morale booster for the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections in the major states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh held by it. A victory can open for it the gateway to the South, which together accounts for 131 Lok Sabha seats, and make it a pan India party. After a string of losses in by elections to Lok Sabha, and despite victory in north eastern states recently, it has a rough task ahead in Karnataka. The anxiety of the party to win in Karnataka is reflected in the way one of its leaders rushed to announce the date of election even before the Election Commission has done so. Both the rivals need to keep restraint during the election campaign.

Whoever wins Karnataka, the one unmistakable fact emerging is that politics is back to its old ways. The BJP’s endorsement of a person it once accused of corruption suggests that ‘real politik’ has forced it to abandon its lofty mission while Congress has brought back divide and divide further to gain power. The Karnataka election is bringing standards crashing down and divisions in the nation are further deepening.
 
 
 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career. This article was also published by lokmarg.com and is being reproduced here with the due permission of the author. - Ed)

 


Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT    


 
  





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WATERS ROYALTY
The Loot that Rajasthan Committed
04.04.18 -
The Loot that Rajasthan Committed



On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi, Justice (retd) Ajit Singh Bains, senior journalist Sukhdev Singh, Prof. Raunki Ram, Prof. Malkiat Singh Saini, Prof. Bawa Singh, Dr Harinder Singh Zira, Sukhdarshan Natt, Harmit Kaur Brar, Gurpreet Kaur Gill, Dr. Jiwanjot Kaur, Manik Goyal, Hardip Sharma, Sukhwinder Kahlon, Sumit Bhullar, Satnam Singh and Dr Jagjit Cheema moved a petition at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking a compensation of Rs 80,000 crore for Punjab in lieu of river waters the state gave to Rajasthan and other non-riparian states free of cost.

"In no judicial precedent, river water of the parent state has been given to other non-riparian or successor state without payment,” their lawyer Rajvinder Singh Bains argued.

Just a week earlier, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi was seen donning a T-shirt and sporting placards emblazoned with messages about protecting Punjab's water rights and federalism. 

The issue of Punjab's right over its waters is connected to the larger notion of centre-state relations. Earlier, some opposition MLAs of Punjab had submitted a resolution to the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and also to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in this regard. We present here a detailed narrative by waters disputes resolution expert Pritam Singh Kumedan.

– Kanwar Manjit Singh, Editor
 
 

THE QUESTION OF ROYALTY 

The Rs 80,000 crore loot


Pritam Singh Kumedan
 
FOR FAR TOO LONG, Punjab has been demanding royalty for the river waters that it has given to Rajasthan. The the highly controversial Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 included Clause 5 that provided legal cover for the continuous flow of these waters to Rajasthan. But it is not even the case of Rajasthan, or anyone else for that matter, that these waters were not to be paid for.
 
The state of Rajasthan was to pay for these waters and the cost was to be calculated later as the agreement of 1955 was reached in a hurry because of an international aspect of the waters problem.
 
For too many decades, Punjab has been fighting with Haryana over the SYL canal, and the entire dispute over waters has been reduced into a Punjab versus Haryana binary but one very important part of the dispute was left uncommented upon. Over time, it was nudged out of the public gaze, but has catapulted centrestage. 

Not too long back, Shiromani Akali Dal’s patron and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal used to take the same line, but often when out of power. 

Experts have bickered in the distant past about the term ‘royalty’ while Punjabis need to be concerned about the cost and compensation for the water that is, and has been, flowing into Rajasthan from Punjab. 

But first, some historical facts need to be gone into. The story is thrilling, to say the least, if you care to stick with the narrative. 

In the Conference held on 29 January 1955 under the Chairmanship of Gulzari Lal Nanda, the then Union Irrigation and Power Minister, it was decided to give 8.0 M.A.F. of Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan. Nowhere was it said that the water is to be given free-of-cost. 
----------
Such was the awe and authority of the Central Government and the Planning Commission in those days that an unwilling East Punjab had to bow before illegal dictates of the Centre and agree to give 8 M.A.F. of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan.
----------  
In fact, it was specifically decided that the cost of water will be worked out separately by the concerned states since the Conference was concerned only with distribution of water. This cost of water that has gone to Rajasthan has not been calculated so far. Now that the issue is gaining significant traction, it will do people immense good if they knew a rough ball park figure worked out by experts. 
-----------
The decision to allocate almost half of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan was taken by the Centre at break-neck speed within a period of three weeks as a team of World Bank was to visit Pakistan and India in February, 1955 to resolve the Waters dispute between the two countries. 
----------- 
About 40 crore Acre feet (400 M.A.F.) of water has gone to Rajasthan from Punjab’s rivers over the last 40 years. Besides this, Punjab also has to be compensated for the depletion of 40 crore acre feet of its sub-soil water and the cost of electricity for pumping out this water. 

But under what circumstances was the water actually allocated to Rajasthan? 

The Pre-partition story

After the Partition of the country in 1947, a "Standstill Agreement” for maintaining the pre-Partition allocation of water to West Punjab was signed in December 1947 at Shimla between East Punjab and West Punjab governments. This Agreement was to expire on 31 March, 1948, unless renewed. In spite of reminders, West Punjab did not bother to get it renewed. On April 1, 1948, East Punjab cut off water supplies to Upper Bari Doab Canal, taking off from Madhopur, and Dipalpur Canal, taking off from the right bank Ferozepur headworks. The result was that Lahore city was deprived of its main source of water supply and 8% of culturable command area in West Pakistan found itself without water. 

S. Swaran Singh was then the Irrigation Minister and S. Swarup Singh was Chief Engineer of East Punjab.
 
This water tap to Pakistan was turned off without making any reference to the Central Government. No wonder, this cutting off of water supplies led to great resentment in Pakistan and a war-like situation developed between the two countries. Clearly, this was the worst kind of April Fools’ Day for them. 
----------
 N.D. Gulhati, India’s Chief negotiator and leader of Indian delegation for negotiating with the World Bank, explains how it became important that work should begin immediately on the construction of the Rajasthan canal to create proof of India’s needs. The decision was never put up before Punjab Cabinet for approval, and never shown to the Chief Minister, Punjab.
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Eventually, the West Punjab Government sent two Chief Engineers to Shimla for negotiating a new agreement. A new agreement valid up to October 1948 was signed on 18 April 1948, in which East Punjab asserted that as per Punjab Partition (Apportionment of Assets and Liabilities) Order, 1947, and the Arbitral Award, the proprietary rights in the waters of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rest wholly in East Punjab government and that West Punjab shall have to pay seigniorage charges (water royalty) for supply of water to CBDC (i.e. Pakistan portion of UBDC) and Dipalpur Canals. West Punjab Chief Engineers agreed and signed the agreement. Subsequently, an agreement more or less along similar lines was signed between the two Dominion Governments on May 4, 1948 at New Delhi. 
 
This Agreement was signed on behalf of India by Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, Narhar Vishnu Gadgil, Minister for Works, Mines and Power, Government of India and Swaran Singh, Minister of Irrigation East Punjab. On behalf of Pakistan, it was signed by Ghulam Mohd, Minister of Finance, Government of Pakistan and Shaukat Hyat Khan and Mumtaz Daultana, both Ministers of West Punjab. 

Pakistan agreed to pay for water to East Punjab an amount that was to be specified by Prime Minister of India and deposit the same in the Reserve Bank of India. After some time, Pakistan started back-tracking on the agreement on the ground that it was signed under duress and is, therefore, not legally binding. India registered the agreement with U.N.O. on 10 May 1950. Pakistan, subsequently, terminated it unilaterally. 

As the water dispute was leading to great tension between the two countries and could have led to war, the World Bank stepped in and offered its "good offices” to settle the dispute, an offer that was accepted by both India and Pakistan in March 1952. 
 
In May,1948 after signing the agreement, Pakistan started digging a new supply channel on the right bank of Sutlej, five miles upstream of Ferozepur headworks (where both banks of Sutlej fall in Pakistan) to connect it directly to Dipalpur canal. India took strong objection to this and Pakistan, therefore, stopped digging the diversion channel in July 1948. 

In May 1948, when Pakistan had posed the threat of by-passing Ferozepur headworks by constructing a new channel from the Sutlej in her territory, just above Ferozepur, East Punjab decided to construct a new barrage at Harike. In April 1949, East Punjab was asked by Central Government to submit at an early date, proposals for the construction of this barrage. 
------------
The Conference of 29.1.1955 was called in great hurry and only for the purpose of distributing Ravi-Beas Waters. Para 5 of decisions taken in the Conference stipulates: "The question of allocation of the cost of water including the cost of storage and other works may be taken up separately as the conference was concerned only with the distribution of supplies.”
------------
By the end of 1950, it was decided that the Harike Barrage Project should include one head-regulator with a capacity of 7000 cusec for the proposed Ferozepur and Sirhind Feeders and another head-regulator, with a capacity of 18,500 cusec, for the proposed Rajasthan Canal. East Punjab also drew up a plan for diverting 20,000 cusec of River Chenab waters to Ravi by constructing a diversion tunnel at Marhu (5 miles downstream the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga). The Harike Barrage was completed in 1952. The intake gates of the 7000 cusecs Ferozepur-Sirhind feeder and 18,500 cusecs Rajasthan Feeder Canal were sealed with masonry until the feeder and part of the Rajasthan Canal were ready for use.  
 
Central Govt’s Fraud with Punjab 

Although, the decision to give 8 MAF of Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan was taken only on 29.1.1955 in the conference held under the Chairmanship of Gulzari Lal Nanda, Union Irrigation Minister, it seems the GoI had already made up its mind and taken all necessary steps to give Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan in 1949-50 itself when the plan to construct a barrage at Harike was just under consideration. 

Such was the awe and authority of the Central Government and the Planning Commission in those days that an unwilling East Punjab had to bow before illegal dictates of the Centre and agree to give 8 M.A.F. of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan. Bhim Sen Sachar was the Chief Minister and Ch. Lahiri Singh was the Irrigation Minister of Punjab in 1955. In April 1950, the Government of Rajasthan was asked by Government of India to undertake skeleton surveys of the areas likely to be commanded by a canal to serve parts of Rajasthan from Harike, Rajasthan government refused and the Government of India had, therefore, to get the survey done through its own agency. 
-----------
The reason why the question of payment of cost for water to Punjab by Rajasthan has remained dormant for the last 47 years is that Rajasthan started getting water for Rajasthan Canal only after about 10 years of the 1955 Conference. Punjab was reorganized in 1966 and dispute about SYL Canal started with Haryana. As a result, clause 5 of the decision of the Conference dated 29.1.1955 was completely forgotten. Punjab has not worked out the cost/value of water supplied to Rajasthan so far. 
-----------
N. D. Gulhati, in his monumental work, "Indus Waters Treaty,” observes:
"It would be interesting to recall here that East Punjab preferred at that time to go ahead with the Bhakhra Dam rather than with the Bhakhra Canal and had almost to be forced by the Planning Commission, in which I was the Chief of the Natural Resources Division, to give the Canal a higher priority. At the same time, not only was East Punjab somewhat hesitant about schemes which would take the waters of the Indus rivers outside East Punjab into Rajasthan but also,  and surprisingly, the then Government of Rajasthan was averse to undertaking investigations for the Rajasthan Canal as it feared that, in the event of an adverse decision with regard to the use of these waters, Rajasthan might not be able to derive any benefit from such investigations. It was, therefore, decided that these investigations be undertaken by an agency of the Government of India and the costs borne by that Government."
 
Decision to give 8 M.A.F. Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan.  

The decision to allocate almost half of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan was taken by the Centre at break-neck speed within a period of three weeks as a team of World Bank was to visit Pakistan and India in February,1955 to resolve the Waters dispute between the two countries and each country had to build up a convincing case. N.D. Gulhati, India’s Chief negotiator and leader of Indian delegation for negotiating with the World Bank, writes:

"Earlier, at the beginning of January, the Bank had suggested a tour of Indus Basin to begin in the middle of February, to acquaint the new Bank team with the irrigation techniques and problems of the basin…Accordingly we had to be vigilant during the visit not only to counteract efforts of Pakistan but also to emphasize the urgency and importance of irrigation development in the Indus basin in India. Nothing would be as effective, I advised my Government, as concrete steps already taken before the field trip towards utilization in India of the entire flow of the Eastern Rivers. I urged, therefore, that work should begin immediately on the construction of the Rajasthan canal. This would furnish the best proof of India’s needs.”

"In January 1955, when it had been decided to undertake a study tour of the basin, I wrote from Washington emphasizing the urgency of reaching an interstate agreement and of according sanction to some of the proposed new works. This, I stated, was necessary to bring home to the visiting Bank and Pakistan groups, the need for, and the importance we attached to, the full utilization in India of the waters of the Eastern Rivers. Before the end of January, the necessary agreement between the States was secured by the Minister of Irrigation and Power, Gulzari Lal Nanda, under which 15.85 M.A.F. of the waters of the Ravi and the Beas, based on mean supplies in the two rivers, available over and above the actual pre-partition use in India., was allocated as follows between the States concerned: Jammu and Kashmir 0.65 MAF; PEPSU l.30 MAF; Punjab 5.90 MAF; and Rajasthan 8.00 MAF.” 
-----------
Nowhere, it is laid down or decided in any meeting or any conference that non-riparian state of Rajasthan would get Ravi-Beas waters free-of-cost.
-----------
It may be added here that it was not an ‘Agreement’ in real sense of the term between the States but only a ‘decision’ taken in a meeting and that too under duress. ‘The decision’ was never put up before Punjab Cabinet for approval and in fact was never shown even to the Chief Minister, Punjab. The Union Ministry of Irrigation and Power wrote to the concerned States for confirming the minutes of the Meeting and after many reminders from that Ministry, Ch. Lahiri Singh, Irrigation Minister, Punjab, hesitatingly sent only one line reply: "Minutes of the Conference held on 29.1.1955. are confirmed.” 

Why Punjab Demanded only 5.9 M.A.F. Waters?
 
The Centre had asked the States that white coming to the Conference on 29th January, 1955, they should bring along their requirements/demands for Ravi-Beas Waters. The instructions to the States were, that no area, which required lift irrigation should be included in the demand of Punjab or Pepsu. But for these instructions, Punjab and Pepsu would have demanded much more water by including Haryana areas and in that case no spare water would have been available for Rajasthan. 

Rajasthan gets Ravi-Beas Waters
 
Work on the construction of Rajasthan Feeder was actually started in March 1958 and by the summer of 1966, 134 mile Feeder and approximately 100 miles of 292 mile Rajasthan Canal had been finished. In the spring of 1964, the masonry was removed and metal gates installed. Some kharif irrigation was provided in 1964 along the upper reaches of Rajasthan Canal, using supplies released from Bhakhra. 

According to Rajasthan’s own assertions, it is already getting 8 MAF of Ravi-Beas water (out of 8.6 MAF allocated to it as per 31.12. 1981 Agreement), about 1.5 MAF of Bhakhra water and 1.1 MAF for Bikaner Canal, i.e. a total of 10.6 M.A.F. So far, during the last 40 years, Rajasthan has received about 40 Crore Acre Feet (400 MAF) of water from Punjab’s rivers. 

Cost of Ravi-Beas waters yet to be decided
 
The Conference of 29.1.1955 was called in great hurry and only for the purpose of distributing Ravi-Beas Waters. Para 5 of decisions taken in the Conference stipulates: "The question of allocation of the cost of water including the cost of storage and other works may be taken up separately as the conference was concerned only with the distribution of supplies.”
 
S. Harbans Singh, Chief Engineer, Irrigation, Punjab (retd), who was dealing with the subject in 1955 as XEN, has told me that they tried to discuss the question of payment for water by Rajasthan, but were snubbed on the ground that the Conference was concerned only with the distribution of water and that the cost of water etc. may be discussed by the States separately.

The reason why the question of payment of cost for water to Punjab by Rajasthan has remained dormant for the last 47 years is that Rajasthan started getting water for Rajasthan Canal only after about 10 years of the Conference. At the same time, Punjab was reorganized in 1966 and dispute about SYL Canal started with Haryana. The result was that clause 5 of the decision of the Conference dated 29.1.1955 was completely forgotten and Punjab has not worked out the cost/value of water supplied to Rajasthan so far. Nowhere, it is laid down or decided in any meeting or any conference that non-riparian state of Rajasthan would get Ravi-Beas waters free-of-cost. 

Precedents where non-riparian States paid for water 

Nowhere in the world has a non-riparian state ever got water even on payment and there has never been any claim or dispute about water by a non-riparian state in the whole world. However, in India, there are three instances, where non-riparian states got water on payment from riparian states because in those good olden days, there was abundance of water and most of it went waste to the sea. 

The three instances are: 

Sirhind canal: Agreement signed on 18 February, 1873 between the British 
Government and the non-riparian States of Patiala, Jind and Nabha, regarding Sirhind 
Canal, stipulated supply of water on payment of seigniorage by these States. 

Periyar River: The Periyar river rises on the western side of the Ghats where there is 
superabundant rainfall and falls into the sea close to Cochin, Tamil Nadu, then called 
Madras province, a non-riparian, entered into an agreement with Travancore-Cochin 
State and got water of Periyar River on annual payment. 

Gang (Bikaner Canal): Punjab agreed to give water to Bikaner State from Sutlej in 
1918. Bahawalpur State objected on the ground that no water can be given to non-riparian 
State of Bikaner. Punjab gave water from its own share, an agreement was signed on 4 
September,1920 and Bikaner State got water for Bikaner Canal on the basis of annual 
payment for water. 

But why the secrecy, and from whom?

It may be noted that copy of ‘Record of the decisions arrived at the Conference’ circulated to the States concerned is marked SECRET (See picture).  It is quite intriguing why the decisions were to be kept secret. And secret from whom? Not from the World Bank and Pakistan because these were meant only to be shown to them and convince them about utilization. Obviously, these decisions were to be kept secret from the media and the people of Punjab, fearing that there may be resentment and agitation in Punjab against the decision of giving 8.0 MAF of Ravi-Beas Water to the non-riparian State of Rajasthan. The decisions were never brought to the notice or approved by the Punjab Cabinet or Chief Minister or the Chief Secretary. In 1955, the Chief Engineer used to be the Secretary of the Irrigation Department also. Ch. Lahiri Singh who was the Irrigation Minister, Punjab in 1955, reluctantly and hesitatingly confirmed the minutes of the Conference. Even now only officials dealing with the subject have any knowledge about the so called ‘Agreement’. 

It is, therefore, time for Punjab to have a new look at the whole problem besides claiming cost/value of the water already supplied. 

Realising Rs. 80,000 Crores by Punjab from Central Government and Rajasthan for Ravi-Beas Waters 

Clearly, decisions that normally would have taken decades to arrive at, were taken in great haste in a matter of hours, ignoring all Constitutional and legal provisions. And above all, "the decisions” taken in the meeting held on 29 January, 1955 were kept "SECRET” and with the passage of time, after some years, were dubbed as an "Agreement” between Punjab and Rajasthan regarding distribution of Ravi-Beas Waters. 

As per clause 5 of the "Decisions” of this Conference, the question of cost of water was to be taken up separately as the Conference was concerned only with the distribution of water. This has not been done so far. Nobody has ever pointed this out during the last more than 60 years. It is time we do it now and also look at every aspect of the whole problem of giving water to Rajasthan from Punjab rivers afresh. 

Here are some more startling and interesting facts regarding this so- called "Agreement” of January 29, 1955:

Views of Shri Kanwar Sain, Ex-Chairman, Central Water and Power Commission regarding Agreement of 29 January, 1955:
 
Shiromani Akali Dal launched Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 against injustice done to Punjab in the distribution of River Waters and Chandigarh etc. In order to resolve the dispute, the Central Government constituted a Cabinet sub-committee of five Central ministers to negotiate with the Akalis. Leaders of major political parties, such as L.K. Advani, Madhu Dandvate etc were also roped in. A meeting between this Central team and Shiromani Akali Dal representatives (Surjit Singh Barnala, Balwant Singh and Ravi Inder Singh) was held in New Delhi on 8 February, 1983. S. Parkash Singh Badal and S. Gurcharan Singh Tohra stayed back in Kapurthala House and guided the SAD team. This meeting remained inconclusive as there was stalemate regarding river-waters and the meeting was adjourned to 10th February. 

On 9 February, 1983,  Kanwar Sain, ex-chairman of Central Water and Power Commission, gave a press interview which appeared in the Press on 10th February 1983. He stated that Akali demand for reopening the whole river-water issue was fully justified and that even the Agreement of 29 January, 1955 should be re-opened. He also stated that the Agreement of 29 January 1955 was drafted by him and that he had given a note on the file, "Realities about the assessment of requirements may be different.” He further stated that 24.3.1976 Award of Prime Minister, giving 3.5 MAF water each to Punjab and Haryana was not fair to Punjab. (Punjab Today is in possession of the press interview that appeared in the Indian Express, dated 10th February, 1983). 

It may be mentioned here that Kanwar Sain was one of the top most and renowned irrigation engineers of India and retired as Chairman of the Central Water and Power Commission. He belonged to Haryana and after retirement, Bansi Lal, Chief Minister of Haryana, appointed him as Chairman of Haryana Development Board. He also remained Chief Engineer of Rajasthan Canal. He himself admitted that for these reasons he had soft corner for Haryana and Rajasthan. In spite of this, he boldly stated true facts and demanded justice for Punjab. 
------------
Nowhere in the world has a non-riparian state ever got water even on payment and there has never been any claim or dispute about water by a non-riparian state in the whole world. However, in India, there are three instances, where non-riparian states got water on payment from riparian states because in those good olden days, there was abundance of water and most of it went waste to the sea. 
------------
In the meeting held on 10th February, 1983, the facts stated by Shri Kanwar Sain were brought to the notice of Central team. The meeting ended in stalemate and no meeting between this Central Committee and SAD Committee was ever held after that. 

Punjab’s Requirements of Water

Total net area under cultivation in Punjab is 1.05 crore acres. About 98% of this area is irrigated and double-cropped. Total cropped area of about 2 crore acres requires more than 5 crore acre feet of water annually. We have 85 lakh acres under wheat and 68 lakh acres under rice besides area under other crops. 

As per recommendations of PAU, rice requires 20 irrigations 3-inch deep. Thus rice alone requires 20 x 3 inch = 5 acre feet of water per acre of rice. Total requirement of water for rice alone thus comes to 340 lakh acre feet.

Punjab fulfils its requirements of water through canals, rain water and underground water.

Canals and rains account for about 2.5 crore acre feet of water (25 MAF) while the rest of 2.5 crore acre feet is ground water pumped by about 13 lakh tubewells.  Annual recharge is about 1.5 crore acre feet only, leaving a deficit of one crore acre feet annually. This excess extraction of one crore acre feet ground water results in depletion of ground water by about one foot annually.
 
It may also be pointed out here that in the Conference of 29 January, 1955, Punjab had put its demand of Ravi-Beas Waters at 59 lakh acre feet only (5.9 MAF) and PEPSU at 13 lakh acre feet, i.e. a total of 72 lakh acre feet (7.2 MAF) which was readily conceded. Shri S.L. Malhotra was the Chief Engineer-cum-Secretary Irrigation to Govt. of Punjab at that time, who worked out this requirement and there was no separate (IAS) Secretary Irrigation in those days. Not an inch of present Haryana’s cultivated area of 88 lakh acres was included in the 7.2 MAF demand of Punjab. Had Haryana areas also been included in Punjab demand, not a drop of surplus water would have been available for allocation to Rajasthan and the whole of 15.58 MAF of surplus Ravi-Beas waters would have been utilized in Punjab itself and there would not have been any Rajasthan Canal. 

Depletion of Ground Water 

As stated above, Punjab is extracting 2.5 crore acre-feet of under-ground water annually. Annual recharge of ground water is only about 1.5 crore acre feet, thus leaving a gap of about one crore acre feet which results in water-table going down by one foot annually. If Punjab had not supplied one crore acre feet of canal water annually to Rajasthan, there would not have arisen any necessity of pumping out this much underground water and annual recharge and drawl would have balanced each other. There would not have been any depletion of ground water which has now assumed alarming proportions.

According to a recent report of NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration of US) published in the August issue of the journal Nature, "Groundwater beneath North India decreases by one foot every year and if measures are not soon taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences may include a collapse of agricultural output, severe shortage of drinking water, conflict and suffering and it can take thousands of years for aquifers to recharge.” 

Experts say that wars in twenty-first century would be over water. Time is not far away when Punjab will face severe shortage of water even for drinking purposes. Giving one crore acre feet of water from Punjab rivers to Rajasthan is the only cause for this alarming depletion of ground water. 

Rajasthan Canal- Government of India’s Brainwave 

Before 1948, nobody had ever thought of constructing a Canal for taking Punjab’s Rivers Waters to the deserts of Rajasthan. In 1940s and 1950s, there was great shortage of food grains in India and huge quantities of food grains had to be imported every year. In order to boost food grains production, the Government of India launched "grow-more-food campaign”. Efforts were made all over India to bring every available strip of vacant land under cultivation. An idea struck the Govt. of India and the Planning Commission that millions of acres of vacant desert land in Rajasthan could be brought under cultivation if water for irrigation could be arranged. 

In May 1948, India and Pakistan had signed an agreement regarding Ravi-Beas and Sutlej rivers of Punjab by which East Punjab’s exclusive rights over the waters of these rivers were more or less accepted. Those were the days of single crop and there was no intensive agriculture. Knowing well that Punjab had no ready-made plans to immediately utilize these waters, Government of India found a golden opportunity to give these waters to Rajasthan. While giving approval to the construction of Harike Headworks in 1949, the Government of India asked Punjab Government to make provision for a 18,500 cusec canal for Rajasthan, which the Punjab Government obediently did. This was about six years before the ‘Agreement’ of 29 January, 1955. Harike Headworks were constructed in 1950-52 with a provision of 18,500 cusec canal for Rajasthan. Even the Rajasthan Government then had no idea or any hope of getting Ravi-Beas Waters and even refused to carry out any survey and the Centre had to do it at its own expense.

The U.S.A. Bureau of Reclamation, whose advice was sought by Government of India regarding Rajasthan Canal Project, advised against the construction of Rajasthan Canal. It advised that instead of wasting water in far away Thar Desert, it should be utilized nearer home, where it would produce more food and fibre. However, the Centre ignored this advice and gave go-ahead to the Project. 

Value of Water 

In his monumental work, "The Indus Rivers”, Prof. Aloys Arthur Michael of Yale University, U.S.A., says, "As in most sub-humid regions of the earth, water in the Indus Basin is more valuable than land. Had it not been for the modern irrigation network developed after the annexation of Sind and Punjab to British India in the 1840s, much of what is now the economic heart of West Pakistan would have remained essentially a semi-desert.” The same applies to Rajasthan and parts of Haryana. 
-----------
Clearly, decisions that normally would have taken decades to arrive at, were taken in great haste in a matter of hours, ignoring all Constitutional and legal provisions. And above all, "the decisions” taken in the meeting held on 29 January, 1955 were kept "SECRET.” These were later on termed as an "Agreement” between Punjab and Rajasthan regarding distribution of Ravi-Beas Waters. 
-----------
The Central Water and Power Commission is already on record, stating that iron Gates of Madhopur Headworks had become very old with the result that 100 cusec water was leaking through these gates everyday and it was going waste to Pakistan. They put the annual value of this 100 cusecs at Rs 100 crores, which loss Punjab was suffering every year. Punjab is giving one crore acre feet or say 50 lakh cusecs of water to Rajasthan every year (1 cusec day=2 acre feet). On this basis, value of this much water comes to about Rs 14,000 crores annually. The total value of 40 crore acre feet of water supplied to Rajasthan during the last 47 years would thus come to Rs 6,58,000 crores. 

Loss on Account of Electricity and Diesel etc. 

The biggest loss suffered by Punjab for supplying one crore acre feet canal water to Rajasthan is that it has to extract this much extra ground water for its own use. There are more than 13 lakh electric and diesel operated tubewells in Punjab which pump out about 2.50 crore acre feet of ground water every year. As per PSER Commission, electricity consumed by these tubewells is more than 1000 crore units every year and value of this electricity comes to more than Rs 3,000 crores. However, as Punjab purchases electricity from other states at the rate of Rs 7 or 8 per unit, at this rate cost of this much electricity would come to more than Rs 8000 crores. Diesel operated tubewell is 4/5 times more costly than electric one. Due to shortage of electricity, many farmers use generators as well. Taking all these  factors into consideration, if we assume Rs 5 per unit as the cost of electricity, the total cost for 1000 crore units of electricity would come to Rs 5000 crores. 

Since Punjab is supplying one crore acre feet of Canal water to Rajasthan every year, it has to use 400 crores unit of electricity worth Rs 2000 crores every year for extracting this much ground water (40% of the 2.5 crore acre feet). Total amount spent by Punjab for pumping out 40 crore acre feet of water during the last 40 years would thus come to Rs 80,000 crores.

Had Punjab used one crore acre feet of its river water, the necessity of extracting this much ground water would not have arisen. This annual loss of 400 crore units of electricity is all due to supplying one crore acre feet of canal water to Rajasthan every year. The cost of boring and reboring tubewells, electric motors, diesel engines, generators, and other associated machinery and labour etc would be in addition to this. Out of 2.5 crore acre feet of ground water, one crore acre feet (i.e. 40 %) could also be debited to Rajasthan and 40 % of all expense on ground water could be debited to that state.
 
Punjab would have become top-most industrial state of the country if it had used this additional 400 crores units of electricity (free or subsidized) for its industry. And capital and industrialists would have come running to Punjab. Instead of being predominantly agricultural state, Punjab would have become a predominantly industrial state. 

Clearly, it is the legal right and the bounden duty of the Punjab Government and all the political parties of Punjab to recover this cost from Rajasthan. In the current political environment marked by bitterness, there are some good signs, including the latest move to file a petition with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. 

It is time for the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party leadership of Punjab to join hands and stand united for this common cause of Punjab.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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