Time machine

Was browsing through the CSCS archives, and came across a few interesting clippings. This is from an interview with Roshan Seth (Nehru, Nehru…)-

Q: Are there any directors in Mumbai you’re dying to work with?

A: Well, I had heard Shyam Benegal was a reputed director and I jumped at it when he offered me Bharat Ek Khoj for Doordarshan. Then I discovered he was very much like other directors in Mumbai. His main interest was to maintain a friendly atmosphere on the sets. There was no real working atmosphere or no cutting edge on the sets. Very dheela-dheela. Haathi nahin hai, ghoda le aao, ghoda nahin hai to chalo gadhe ko le aao. I don’t like that.

I know of only one Rajdeep Sardesai in the media, and this is from a 1990 article of his-

No individual right can exist in isolation. It is accepted under a basic jurisprudential scheme that a legal right must co-relate to a duty. One classic example developed by an English jurist to explain the right-duty co-relationship was the right to play ball in one’s garden. This right imposed an obligation to ensure that the ball did not break the neighbour’s window-pane. To prevent this happening, the garden was fenced. Similarly, Doordarshan had to censor events at Ayodhya to prevent our right to information from spreading mayhem in the rest of the country.

That the possibility of communal violence erupting was great has been proved by subsequent events. This is where the argument of “national interests” being raised by the government assumes much force.

Of course, what constitutes national interests and who interprets this concept has become a matter of debate, especially over the state-run media that are still grappling with the question of autonomy. The former, information and broadcasting minister, Mr K.K. Tewari, for example, saw the national interest to be inextricably entwined with the achievements of the then Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi. It is also true that “national interest” has been used to limit artistic licence, as seen in the attempts to censor television serials like Tamas and The Sword of Tipu Sultan.

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Comments

  • Varuna  On March 21, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I really used to like your earlier – stark, black-and-white, no frills – page layout. It made the blog stand out and gave the impression of seriousness.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On March 22, 2010 at 3:54 am

      The current one is Dusk. The only thing good with this one is the background color of the content section, and the fact that it has good support for deeply nested comment threads (not many themes do).

      A few more days. If I don’t get used to it, I’ll move back to Journalist 1.9.

  • blr_p  On March 24, 2010 at 12:18 am

    At what point does security overrule individual rights ?
    Given our many interactions your answer to that question is never :)

    So there will be an ensuing carnage and heads will roll in government because the oppositoin will milk it to the max. If we are to be consistent, the media in this instance would likewise also not be gagged and will push gory images & stories leaving the all to obvious leading questions hanging..

    What good was it all and and whether it was necessary ?
    Why is the state shirking from its responsibility ?

    The emotions win out over the principles. The govt you get, the rules that are framed, amended or struck down are a direct consequence.

    How do you change this ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On March 24, 2010 at 3:17 am

      # “What good was it all and and whether it was necessary ?”
      # “Why is the state shirking from its responsibility ?”
      Rioting in god’s name is as illogical as it gets, and there isn’t any guarantee that censorship even helps. That’s why Sardesai’s argument, “Doordarshan had to censor events at Ayodhya to prevent our right to information from spreading mayhem in the rest of the country,” makes no sense.

      The media is simply the messenger. Those who have murder on their minds will kill regardless of what Doordarshan did/does. Therefore, someone who gets injured/killed in the riots should blame BJP & Co, and not DD, for their plight. I would.

      As for the government shirking its responsibility, one word, politics. The present system is rigged to bring out the worst in human beings, especially politicians.

      # “How do you change this ?”
      I’m afraid, I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. A time will come when, thanks to the direction in which it is progressing, the costs of “modern” civilization will outweigh its benefits. It will then be each man for himself.

  • blr_p  On March 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    The media is simply the messenger. Those who have murder on their minds will kill regardless of what Doordarshan did/does. Therefore, someone who gets injured/killed in the riots should blame BJP & Co, and not DD, for their plight
    Those that have murder on their minds will DO just that without extra help. The media is the messenger but it also indirectly aids & abets in this case. Given our predilection to see things in print or on the TV and equating it with confirmation or proof, wouldn’t you say the odds of retribution increase ? After all, you DID read and see with your own eyes what happened, right :)

    I understand where you’re coming from wrt to principles but what are the consequences here of secondary effects complicating the situation ?

    It creates a vicious cycle does it not. The violence feeds of itself where the purpose behind it gets lost and the only purpose served is that of violence itself and more of it.

    I remember when Godhra happened and there was a total media blackout, the foreign press was barred access to the area and could only rely on second hand information. I was told by a manager from a PSU bank in no uncertain terms that the gravity of the situation was not as bad as the rumours were. It had been blown out of proportion. When questioned about the reason for the blackout in this case, it was so that things did not degenerate further.

    Clearly here we see ppl in responsibility have a duty to keep tabs on information and to spin the negative effects away in the interests of stability. To create firewalls so that the fire spreads no further.

    How does one weigh up the pro’s & cons in this extreme situation ? I’ve picked it purposely to see whether compromises are advisable and whether they can be justified.

    Is it valid to curb freedoms so that innocent lives maybe saved ? NO

    If we stick to principles and the situation spirals out of control at what point is it considered approrpriate for the state to intervene, if at all ?

    If lives & property are at risk isn’t it the duty of the state to intervene as early as possible in the interests of safeguarding those rights and therefore lowering the costs to protect those rights ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On March 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm

      The correct thing to do is to let it be known that those who kill and plunder will be caught and prosecuted. When it becomes widely known that the chances of getting caught for committing a crime are as high as 70-80%, criminals will think twice. The only ones who will continue to riot and kill in these circumstances are those who don’t give a damn about the future. (This is why the death penalty does nothing to reduce terror attacks.) And appropriate precautions need to be taken against actions by such people. Another thing, personal weapons. It may or may not help, but the ability to defend oneself must be present.

      But when you have murderers and sympathizers in the government, the police force, and “civil society,” this isn’t going to happen, is it? Instead, the media will be blacked out to “contain” the damage, stop the flow of actual news, and let rumors spread like wildfire.

      Can’t protect X’s rights by denying Y’s rights. One you admit such a principle, you have begun to slide down “the slippery slope.”

  • blr_p  On March 26, 2010 at 1:25 am

    # The correct thing to do is to let it be known that those who kill and plunder will be caught and prosecuted. When it becomes widely known that the chances of getting caught for committing a crime are as high as 70-80%, criminals will think twice.
    That’s a good point, can ppl trust the system without having to take the law into their own hands. If ppl’s confidence with the system is high then even if they did see & read all that happened they would still know that justice would ultimately be served. It would be viewed as a simple law & order problem without any more overtones.

    How many committees were constituted to probe the Sikh attacks in ’84 ? In the end how many were convicted ? There is a strong chance we might see something similar wrt to Godhra as well. The real perps will get away and maybe a fall guy or two will be held up as justice served. This does not bode well for possible future events of a similar nature. Some would say even Nandigram is a smaller version of the same.

    It’s well known we only have a third of the cops for every 100k ppl compared with the west. I’ve never understood why there wasn’t a drive to increase that number or at least address this shortcoming. I hear all sorts of reasons varying from more corruption to increased local taxes yet crimes get committed and in some states the conviction rate is abysmally low. Politicans don’t want more cops because there’s only so much they can afford to keep under their thumb etc. In short there is a never ending list of reasons why more cops is worse than less cops.

    Sometimes ppl even say we are not a police state like elsewhere, I wonder whether you would view an increase in cops as growing the state’s influence over ppl’s lives and be against it. If so how else does one address this shortfall ?

    I’m making a simple comparison here, less crime, less cops and more crime more cops needed. I’m not sure if that is necessarily true all the time, all i have as an example is mayor Guliani and how he cleaned up NYC to the point where Clinton in his second election campaign could claim a drop of 33% in national crime just because of one state. The answer in short was more cops and more powers to police aggressively given to them. Took them 10 years but clean it up they did.

    Coming back to India this means more cost. Having more cops is certainly more expensive. The cost to cause trouble is a fraction of the cost to protect. You would need many cops on the payroll for just a few incidents that might occur with far reaching implications.

    You could very well ask how much is a free society worth and the answer is whatever it requires to keep it that way. So then it follows to protect rights we have to be able to afford that protection or there will be less rights available to the ppl.

    This brings us to the next point, if the law isn’t present to adequately tackle the situation then what do we do in the interim ? The defintion of adequate here is keeping crime lower than other areas, a drive to be lower than the national average. If applied uniformly, the national average itself comes down and again the drive to beat it and so on.

    It would seem the short term fix to address the shortcoming is rights curbing legislation. This is why we had MISA, TADA, POTA, SPA & curfews. The force in place is inadequate to deliver justice or at least deter violence that the only way to maintain ‘normalcy’ is to have acts & powers that rob us of rights because are we unwilling/unable to pay for them.

    Yes i agree robbing one of rights to address other problems is no improvement at all. It becomes a zero sum game at which point one wonders what the word ‘rights’ actually means if they can be arbitrarily diluted on demand.

    So is the purpose served ?

    Once we admit to that then it becomes the norm. Cops remain at low numbers, laws get stricter and invevitably rights get curbed slowly but surely. Then again acts get repealed, MISA & TADA no longer apply. Its possible that elements of TADA got incorporated into various state laws where there was no need to have it anymore. POTA got renacted & SPA is in force in Kashmir & the NE but nowhere else. RIght there you can see there are areas within the union that are more free than others.

    It boils down to which is politically acceptable and paying less always seems an easier sell than dilution of something intangible like ‘rights’.

    Does this mean that as the country’s economy grows that rights become affordable ?

    The reverse appears to be true, before independence we were much poorer than after and certainly had fewer rights as well.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On March 27, 2010 at 3:08 am

      # “There is a strong chance we might see something similar wrt to Godhra as well.”
      As far as I am concerned it’s a certainty.

      # “I wonder whether you would view an increase in cops as growing the state’s influence over ppl’s lives and be against it.”
      I would, absolutely.

      # “It’s well known we only have a third of the cops for every 100k ppl compared with the west.”
      Quantity is secondary. Should cops raid raves and arrest drug traffickers (why not toothpaste traffickers?), control bar dancers whose dances are a threat to national security, see to it that cinema halls and bookstores are not indulging in the distribution of stuff that is dangerous to public morality etc etc etc, or tackle real crime? Its a case of misplaced priorities. But I guess the real moolah lies in such activities rather than arresting terrorists and murderers.

      # “mayor Guliani…”
      Statistics can be (mis)read in different ways? What is crime? Violent crime? Sprinkling banned salt over one’s pizza? Jaywalking? What, exactly? What if the cops had stopped recording complaints, as is all too common in India, or used uncivilized tactics to deal with “crime”? I can’t say what Giuliani did. But I would prefer freedom with associated risks to safety enforced through authoritarian measures.

      # “If so how else does one address this shortfall ?”
      You are looking for a pragmatic solution to the problem. There isn’t any. Indian civilization and way of life will see a significant improvement the day baboons wear bow ties and eat using forks and knifes while conversing in Sanskrit.

      The problem, and it isn’t necessarily restricted to India, is that we are experiencing the decline of civilization while technology and literacy (not wisdom) improves, fruits of periodic bursts of free thinking. Unless the underlying culture improves, there can be no improvement. The corruption is symptomatic of a deeper rot.

      What must not be forgotten is this. People, generally speaking, don’t refrain from committing crimes because of the existence of the rule of law. Its because crime is not part of their nature.

      # “The reverse appears to be true, before independence we were much poorer than after and certainly had fewer rights as well.”
      Its logical isn’t it? Kings ruled over their subjects, and swallowed a lion’s share of the production. There was hardly any technological innovation. The caste system made sure that mediocrity won over talent and intelligence.

      There’s an interesting analysis on the subject by Isabel Paterson, God of the Machine (epub landing page). The energy metaphor becomes a bit too tiring towards the end, but the essential point is, the way you deal with human beings, and their rights, is key to the progress (or decline) of civilization.

  • blr_p  On April 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    # As far as I am concerned it’s a certainty.
    And therefore the chance of a recurrence of attrocities against yet-another-community is not low :(

    # I would, absolutely. Quantity is secondary.
    Yes, there will be more civil rights infringing activity from the cops. But would petty crime also remain at the same level ? No, It would also proportionately come down, leaving more space for serious crime to likewise be tackled.

    # Its a case of misplaced priorities
    Defnitely. It’s a quick fix. What would be better is a systemic change which will take much longer and its uncertain from which quarter it would arise from in the first place. It will only happen when we reach a breaking point as there isn’t a sufficient incentive otherwise. If the ppl make a loud enough noise about it then it will happen. Whether it will also be a quick fix is very likely at least till the public quietens down.

    # Statistics can be (mis)read in different ways?
    Yes and contested as well because of the political implications. Compstat captured, complaints, arrests & summons for various precincts and compared with past performance of the same.

    # What is crime? Violent crime?
    Petty crime and this had the effect of also reducing more serious crime ie violent crime. ‘Broken Windows’ was the idea behind it.

    # What if the cops had stopped recording complaints, as is all too common in India, or used uncivilized tactics to deal with “crime”?
    There have been critiques that Compstat discouraged officers from taking reports, to reduce reported crime. But its harder to say that this was the sole reason that crime came down. Uncivilized tactics did happen in two notable cases where one person was sexually abused in police custody and another was gunned down by cops with itchy trigger fingers.

    The inevitable product of an agressive police force or exceptional occurrences ?

    # I can’t say what Giuliani did. But I would prefer freedom with associated risks to safety enforced through authoritarian measures.
    I’ts safe to say you would most likely be 100% opposed to how Giuliani carried it out. Everyone likes the idea of lower crime, fewer agree in the manner of implementation. But reduce crime he did and that’s something even his strongest detractors would be forced to grudgingly accept.

    # You are looking for a pragmatic solution to the problem. There isn’t any. Indian civilization and way of life will see a significant improvement the day baboons wear bow ties and eat using forks and knifes while conversing in Sanskrit.
    I don’t think we differ too much with other countries when it comes to tackling crime. If the will is there the job gets done regardless.

    The reason I brought this up was because of what you said earlier here. I think to have freedom of expression we need the muscle power to protect it. If that’s in place then your rights will be protected and you won’t be muzzled because the state can handle the blowback. This is why I think we had to let Tasleema Nasreen & MF Hussain escape but the Brits could hold onto Rushdie.

    But in protecting speech there will also be a loss of liberty. You could rightly question whether we gained anything in the end and whether it appears that we are trading one set of freedoms for another. The answer might lie in the question….

    What value does a society that upholds law possess vs one that does less ?

    You replied with…

    “I would prefer freedom with associated risks to safety enforced through authoritarian measures”

    You accept the lesser of the two evils in this case. That some lapses are better than increased policing. You also accept that we do have a right to be offended as its better than protecting against it.

    As the protection of fundamental rights is down to how strong we are at any given time. I don’t see a false dichotomy here, do you ? It does seem like a zero-sum game in practice.

    # People, generally speaking, don’t refrain from committing crimes because of the existence of the rule of law. Its because crime is not part of their nature.
    How to explain the ‘cleaning up’ of NYC otherwise ?

    # but the essential point is, the way you deal with human beings, and their rights, is key to the progress (or decline) of civilization.
    I agree and a more compact version of the same can be found here.

    But rights don’t come for free. If they are to be lived as opposed to merely existing on paper then they have to be protected. They can be protected so long as the state has the resources and the will to do so. And in so doing do we arrive at a contradiction where to protect said rights we may infringe on said rights at the same time ?

    Do we then just accept the status quo as the lesser of the two evils in this case ?

    You reply was…

    “As for the government shirking its responsibility, one word, politics.”

    Or how to silence the opposition and claim credit at the same time :)

    How long could a govt stay in office if it neglected protecting its citizenry in the interests of not infringing on their rights ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On April 9, 2010 at 2:34 am

      # “No, It would also proportionately come down, leaving more space for serious crime to likewise be tackled.”
      Regardless of the broken window hypothesis, I have to say that I don’t understand this fascination with petty crime. Pickpocketing, “loitering” and bank heists are different types of crimes. There is nothing that even remotely suggests that a pickpocket graduates to murder after a few years at the job.

      If the police really cares about tackling serious crime, targeting petty criminals makes no sense. Not that it ought not to be done. But, as I said, its a case of misplaced priorities. As the wiki article says-

      “The central drawback of the approaches advanced by Wilson, Kelling, and Kennedy rests in their shared blindness to the potentially harmful impact of broad police discretion on minority communities.” This was seen by the authors, who worried that people would be arrested “for the ‘crime’ of being undesirable”. According to Stewart, arguments for low-level police intervention, including the Broken Windows hypothesis, often act as cover for racist behavior.

      This is what comes to mind when you talk of petty crime. The small fry go to jail, or die. The big fish become prime ministers and police commissioners.

      # “How to explain the ‘cleaning up’ of NYC otherwise ?”
      I don’t know. This is one possible explanation-

      An obvious logical problem of this type of reasoning is that the “broken windows theory” closely relates correlation with causality…

      # “I think to have freedom of expression we need the muscle power to protect it….”
      # “And in so doing do we arrive at a contradiction where to protect said rights we may infringe on said rights at the same time ?”
      As long as its not a case of putting the cart before the horse, I agree. However, experience shows that the “muscle power” is more often than not as great a threat to free speech as clowns rioting on the streets, or filing cases in court.

      Ordinary people are more afraid of law, “legal terrorism,” than some goons. Meaning, if the laws that make it easy to hound people on the basis of what they said or did are stricken off the books, and the government takes a lenient view in case of use of excessive force during self-defense, most free speech related scandals would not happen. This won’t stop a Theo Van Gogh sort of thing, but would curb the intimidation by goons with political ambitions.

      It comes down to principles, and the nature of the people selected to uphold those principles. If free speech has to work, both have to be in order. Which has never been the case in India.

  • blr_p  On April 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    # There is nothing that even remotely suggests that a pickpocket graduates to murder after a few years at the job.
    No, and this isn’t the assertion. What broken windows suggests is that if an area is maintained it creates a certain perception that the community is an orderly one and becomes less of a magnet for petty crime. The pickpocket might not become a murderer but as he is less welcome in the area so also will more serious offenders ie drug dealers and ultimately gangs.

    The result is a rise in neighbourhood property prices. No ppl hanging out on the corners implies less unemployment in the area and with it crime and automatically raises the asking price and this creates a virtuous cycle. Agreed that it does not always follow that less loitering implies lower unemployment but perceptions determine whether an area is desirable or not and this absence plays a positive role.

    # This is what comes to mind when you talk of petty crime. The small fry go to jail, or die.
    Don’t have to go to jail, they just have to shift to another area. Cheapest way to cut down on crime is make it some one else’s problem :)

    If followed by neighbouring districts its cleans out a whole swathe in short time. yes, there is surely the ‘undesirable’ charge here but if someone does not belong to an area and is just there for business and that business entails violence then they have no right to be in the area in the first place. Yep, its pre-judging because they hang out in an area but the odds are, that perception is the right one.

    I’ve experienced this myself when waiting for friends in an area and was summoned quite rudely by a cop and then asked my business in the area. When I answered he apologised and let me be. This was outside the US Open grounds and I guess he took me for a hispanic tout. Profiling of sorts, yes.

    # An obvious logical problem of this type of reasoning is that the “broken windows theory” closely relates correlation with causality
    True, but look at the effects, less(er) petty crime in the area. Do the inhabitants of these areas think they are being pushed about, not at all. You will find a few that are but they are in the minority. If 70% say it improved life in the area and 30% disagree then is the theory at fault ?

    # Ordinary people are more afraid of law, “legal terrorism,” than some goons.
    Yes, and its dissapointing to hear friends say they don’t trust cops. Because there are many bad ones, the idea of having even more cops when the system according to them is rotten is just asking for trouble. Whenever I mention more cops I sense a knee-jerk objection on these grounds. The equation is more cops = less freedom.

    I can certainly see objections from many grps that more cops will lead to increased harrassment on dubious grounds :(

    Night life died in Blr because they could not keep crime down, so instead of tackling it they opted to bring back closing hours, everything shuts down much earlier than in the past. What was once a vibrant scene is now a sleepy one :(

    # Meaning, if the laws that make it easy to hound people on the basis of what they said or did are stricken off the books, and the government takes a lenient view in case of use of excessive force during self-defense, most free speech related scandals would not happen.
    Ok

    # This won’t stop a Theo Van Gogh sort of thing, but would curb the intimidation by goons with political ambitions.
    Ah, now we’re getting fully into an Indian context. Where politicans either hold back or spur cops on for electoral gains.

    Given there are existing rivalries/faultlines amongst so many groups in our country that, more aggressive policing could be used to pick on one’s rival ?

    I guess this is what you meant by…

    “experience shows that the “muscle power” is more often than not as great a threat to free speech as clowns rioting on the streets, or filing cases in court.”

    That more cops will proportinately lead to more abuses. This implies that the wronged currently have no way to seek justice. How to counter “legal terrorism” as you put it ? Your word against theirs.

    Was 1984, 2002 or Nandigram “legal terrorism” ? In the last case it certainly was the state acting on citizens. The first two was the state not acting in time rather than being the instigator.

    What this tells me is that for now, in India, prevention is cheaper/better than the cure. That..
    – its better to curb freedoms that could lead to trouble which cannot be adequately handled by the state.
    – any grp can ask for bans because it hurts their sentiments.
    – it justifies the passage of assorted 3-4 letter Acts in our interest.

    In some ways libel is an extension of this same sort of thinking. A grp or an entity determines the damage that could ensue and demands the state act.

    # As long as its not a case of putting the cart before the horse, I agree.
    Well, the problem here is hindsight. We can say with hindsight that the restrictive even abusive policies were justified as they solved the problem in Punjab or even Kashmir for that matter.

    But at the time there must have been no shortage of cassandra’s warning against it.

    This leads to the current burning issue and the naxals.

    Is the state justified in extra policing to restore its writ in areas that it has neglected ?

    In doing so it will effectively be going to war against its own people. A war not of its own choosing but rather one that has been imposed on it.

    Is there at all a right to self-defence from state violence in this case ?

    There is also a right to property angle lurking in this story, so tell me which topic to post that bit in.

    PS. you have to add some sort of msg preview widget, it gets difficult to see typos in a little msg box and there is no way to make any corrections once a message is posted.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On April 15, 2010 at 2:17 am

      # “If 70% say it improved life in the area and 30% disagree then is the theory at fault ?”
      Th important question is how do you ensure that abuses don’t occur, and that if they do, that the people responsible for the same are sacked and acted against? Such drives always have popular support because the supporters aren’t the ones who find themelves at the wrong end of the stick. Here’s something from a long long time back-

      In 1922, Roscoe Pound and Felix Frankfurter undertook a detailed quantitative study of crime reporting in Cleveland newspapers for the month of January 1919, using column inch counts. They found that, whereas, in the first half of the month, the total amount of space given over to crime was 925 inches, in the second half it leapt to 6642 inches. This was in spite the fact that the number of crimes reported had only increased from 345 to 363. They concluded that although the city’s much publicized “crime wave” was largely fictitious and manufactured by the press, the coverage had a very real consequence for the administration of criminal justice. Because the public believed they were in the middle of a crime epidemic, they demanded an immediate response from the police and the city authorities. These agencies wishing to retain public support, complied, caring “more to satisfy popular demand than to be observant of the tried process of law.” The result was a greatly increased likelihood of miscarriages of justice and sentences more severe than the offenses warranted.

      # “How to counter ‘legal terrorism’ as you put it ? Your word against theirs…”
      While cops do terrorize people, that isn’t what I mean when I refer to “legal terrorism.” I am thinking about laws, free speech and “chilling effect.” State terror and state-sanctioned violence are more in-your-face than “legal terrorism,” and while people may argue about the persons responsible for the same, there isn’t any doubt that the act is intolerable.

      In the case of free speech though, “sentiments” matter a lot and there isn’t much of a consensus on what the law ought to be. That’s the difference.

      And yes, what you say about the Indian mentality is true. They do think that they are “preventing” something, which only makes the situation worse and encourages the wrong kind of people.

      # “We can say with hindsight that the restrictive even abusive policies were justified as they solved the problem in Punjab or even Kashmir for that matter.”
      I won’t say “justified,” but it did work in Punjab. Perhaps the price was too high. When you give the cops “unlimited” power, it soon becomes an us vs. them situation. And this can’t be reversed.

      # “Is the state justified in extra policing to restore its writ in areas that it has neglected ?”
      # “There is also a right to property angle lurking in this story…”
      The situation has deteriorated beyond a mere “law and order problem”, as Digvijay Singh terms PC’s position on the matter. It is now a war-zone with people caught in between two armies. And yes, property rights are a critical part of the equation. Unless the state gets serious about property rights, this conflict isn’t going to end. Those who find themselves victimized by the state will go and join the Maoists without worrying about the fact that those bastards follow an anti-life ideology that is responsible for 10x more deaths than the other mass murderer of our age, Hitler. And the state, if it pays enough, will always find people willing to fight the menace.

      # “Is there at all a right to self-defence from state violence in this case ?”
      Every citizen always has that right. The only problem is that you would not survive the exercise of that right in an uncivilized country. While in a civilized country, you will never feel the need to exercise that right.

      Punjab and the naxal problem are not comparable. In the first case, the conflict occurred in a relatively wealthy and “modern” state. In the latter case, its medieval townships, villages and forests. Tackling it is not going to be easy.


      # “you have to add some sort of msg preview widget…
      Unfortunately, wordpress doesn’t have such a facility. If you do want to correct something, add a second comment specifying what you want to get done. I can then merge them both.

  • blr_p  On April 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    # Th important question is how do you ensure that abuses don’t occur,
    Not always possible.

    # and that if they do, that the people responsible for the same are sacked and acted against?
    There is a temptation here to think of the quality of justice delivered for 1984 & 2002 and compare with individual cases that do not share a common theme like they did. Thinking that given the publicity those events received and the justice delivered that individual, unrelated cases would also fare the same.

    Is this a fair projection or not ?

    I’m sure there are cases where cops have been penalised as well as cases where they got away. So the chances appear 50-50 after a very long and arduous fight under the present conditions.

    # They concluded that although the city’s much publicized “crime wave” was largely fictitious and manufactured by the press
    I found the bolded part a bit curious and dug up the actual report (bout 1.7MB), there are other formats available too on archive.org

    Chapter V NEWSPAPERS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE is the chapter referred to here, while a fascinating read invoking images of what also happens in India yet I do not find where it says the cases were fictitious and made up.

    However I do agree with what it says about the influence the press has over law enforcment and the expectations it creates in the public mind.

    # Ordinary people are more afraid of law, “legal terrorism,” than some goons. Meaning, if the laws that make it easy to hound people on the basis of what they said or did are stricken off the books, and the government takes a lenient view in case of use of excessive force during self-defense, most free speech related scandals would not happen.

    #I am thinking about laws, free speech and “chilling effect.” State terror and state-sanctioned violence are more in-your-face than “legal terrorism,” and while people may argue about the persons responsible for the same, there isn’t any doubt that the act is intolerable.
    This is a subtle point that i’m not getting here.

    You want it to be harder for ppl to be pulled up for speech violations. At the same time you also want it to be easier for ppl to use self-defense ??

    # When you give the cops “unlimited” power, it soon becomes an us vs. them situation. And this can’t be reversed.
    Special Powers Acts for punjab & chandigarh introduced in ’83 & repealed in ’89.

    Maybe it was too much of a price but otherwise Punjab would still be ablaze today or it would have taken longer to conclude.

    # property rights are a critical part of the equation. Unless the state gets serious about property rights, this conflict isn’t going to end.
    Right to property was diluted in ’77 to a statutory right and the fifth schedule was further diluted during NDA’s rule. The Andhra’s were successful in tackling the naxals (pushed them out to become someone else’s problem) but failed to introduce Land Reforms.

    The Australians introduced a Land Rights Act which applies only to the northern territory province to help resolve land disputes with the Aborigines. But given we removed our right to property it would be difficult to envisage a similar solution here.

    Using General Petraeus’ characterisation of COIN — clear, hold, build. We are very capable of the first two but the final component & one which will provide a lasting solution isn’t there.

    Does this means the govt will likely concentrate only in the areas where MoU’s have been signed, clear ppl out of them so those MoU’s can be operationalised and then keep ppl out of these areas. Once done, declare victory and move on to other affairs as we do not possess the building blocks to provide a lasting solution to this problem yet. Its yet-another quick fix :(

    The ppl that stand to lose are going to defend their turf tooth & nail as without their land they have nothing. The next generation of tribal will adapt but the present one will be lost. Whilst this happens the naxals turn every territorial loss into a propaganda win by painting the state as the land grabber.

    # Punjab and the naxal problem are not comparable. In the first case, the conflict occurred in a relatively wealthy and “modern” state. In the latter case, its medieval townships, villages and forests. Tackling it is not going to be easy.
    Sure, I meant in the sense of a grp usurping the state and its resultant response and the eventual result. The other link is that KPS Gill was employed as a security advisor to Chhattisgarh in 2006-07 but his recommendations were ignored and they did not renew his contract. His main point is to strengthen the police as they know the people & the area better compared to outsiders. As its not only the tribals that are afraid of the naxals, but the cops are even more scared. They bribe their way out of postings to disturbed areas so the situation never improves in these parts.

    The same approach (strengthen the thana) was used in Punjab as well as Andhra.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On April 22, 2010 at 3:08 am

      # “You want it to be harder for ppl to be pulled up for speech violations. At the same time you also want it to be easier for ppl to use self-defense ??”
      Yes, and yes. I don’t find them to be contradictory. Make it impossible for suits to be filed against people based on what they said, and in case underhand means are used to silence them (threat of violence, or actual violence), make it easy for them to claim self defense in case they injure/ kill the attackers.

      # “Special Powers Acts for punjab & chandigarh introduced in ‘83 & repealed in ‘89.”
      I was thinking of the mentality. They will no longer think that they have some responsibility towards the public, even if such powers are actually withdrawn later on.

      # “property rights …
      That there are no “property rights” is true, de facto and de jure. Every piece of property in the country is safe as long as the government isn’t interested in it. As for what the government might do in areas inhabited by tribals, this clearing and holding business will not work. If the local populace is not in favor of a major project, it will not take off.

      The naxal problem will disappear only if the people in the area see some kind of development together with peace. Even then, I think it will continue in a subdued fashion like what’s now happening in Assam compared to what did happen a decade+ back.

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