This is a spoof editorial written on behalf of “The Hindu” editorial board. This is written in response to their editorial published on 9th January 2010. It is reproduced below for the reader’s convenience.
Tomorrow’ Headlines ?
Image and Reality in Rural India
In the middle of 2009, the Opposition parties raised the issue of Food Prices and famine across the country. As the prices of commodities kept rising, Indian media both of the Red and Saffron kind were quick to castigate the Government for its inadequate handling of the price situation. Barring the fact that there was a secular rise in prices from the already dizzy levels that it had reached in 2008, there was little to distinguish this price rise from that of similar price rises that has taken place in the past. In fact the news on the Price front is heartening. Reliable date might be as scarce as food items but the authoritative NSS has estimated that the BPL population went hungry only on 247 days out of 365 days in a year – the lowest since the demise of Aurangazeb the saviour in 1707. The figures show just how ill-founded the claims that the Rural India is suffering from a food crisis. In Ethiopia in the year 2008, people went hungry on 249.1 days a year. It is heartening to know that in India people go hungry only on 247 days a gain of 100 basis points.
Policy makers will, hopefully, continue to draw their lessons from the empirical picture – not reality. There is clear justification for reducing agricultural output on a continuous basis. In addition to converting Agricultural land to Industrial uses, most cultivation has shifted from food crops to cash crops since this government took office. It would be dangerous, of course to lose sight of the real threats ahead. The recent starvation deaths demonstrate that there is a famine in the country. Availability of food articles at affordable price has led to severe famine and mal nutrition. Last year saw a year-on-year increase in famine death for the first time since 2002, with an estimated 200 deaths in 60 drought affected districts. (There were 198 deaths in the previous year). However, last year’s death levels were nowhere near the 2,000 deaths in Gujarat Genocide of innocent Muslims by the Narendra Modi sponsored riots for the three days between 28th February and March 1st in 2002. The food policy of the Government, it is true is skewed in favour of cash crops and is against the stated objectives of the Commission set up in this regard by the Prime Minister. Given the dynamics of the market, it is unlikely that the Government would change its policies. But even then there are signs of hope. Few noticed the small print in the latest press release of the Agriculture Minister –“if the common man cannot afford ground nuts maybe they should try cashew nuts”. India must do all it can to encourage such nuts.
Note 1: This editorial is being published simultaneously by 58 publications across the world.
Note 2: 80 eminent personalities have endorsed this editorial. Those include, Ms. Arundathi Roy (from her controversial farm-house), Harsh Mander (working for a NGO, paid by Government but writing syndicated articles), Kancha Iliah (Author of the Book “Now you know why I converted to writing syndicated coloumn rather than teach in Osmania Varsity”). The names of the other eminent personalities appear in alphabetical order in the attached book sponsored by ……
Actual reproduced from Hindu
Image and Reality in Kashmir
Early this week, President Asif Ali Zardari promised legislators in Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir that he would honour his father in law’s promise to wage a thousand year war” to seize territory claimed by the country from India. On Wednesday, as two Jihadists holed up inside a Srinagar hotel battled police personnel, India’s media were quick to cast the fighting in similarly apocalyptic terms. Barring that it took place around the corner from the offices of the Srinagar based television stations, there was little to distinguish the incident from dozens of similar fire engagements that take place in the state. In fact the news from Jammu and Kashmir is heartening. Comprehensive official data are yet to be released, but the authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal has estimated that 55 civilians, 78 security force personnel and 244 terrorists were killed in the State in 2009 – the lowest figure since 1990. The figures show just how ill-founded the claims that J & K is a war zone now are. The United States recorded 5.4 Homicide per 100,000 population in 2008. In J & K last year, there were 3.7 terrorism-related deaths per 100,000 population, including combatants.
Policy makers will, hopefully, continue to draw their lessons from the empirical picture – not television images. There is clear justification for nudging the peace process forward by continuing with careful reduction in troop across the State. In addition to cuts in the presence of the Central Reserve Police Force, two divisions of troops were recently withdrawn. In all, more than 30,000 troops have been pulled back since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took office. It would be dangerous, of course, to lose sight of the real threats ahead. Last month’s attempted assassination of pro-dialogue secessionist Fazal Haq Quereshi demonstrated that Pakistan-based jihadist groups, as well as their patrons in that country’s military establishment remained hostile to peace. Pakistan’s failure to dismantle the infrastructure of Jihadist groups has led to continued infiltration across the Line of Control. Last year saw a year-on-year increase in infiltration for the first time since 2002, with an estimated 106 terrorists crossing over in 433 recorded attempts. (there were 342 reported infiltration attempts in 2008.) However, last year’s infiltration levels were nowhere near the 1,373 bids recorded in 2003. Pakistan, its is also true, has so far refused to commit itself to the five principles for the resolution of the dispute arrived at between secret envoys appointed by Prime Minister Singh and former President Pervez Musharraf. Given the turmoil in that country, it is unlikely that any political dispensation will gift its opponents political capital by making concessions on J & K. But even then, there are signs of hope. Few noticed the key small print in President Zardari’s speech: that the thousand-year-war he spoke of would involve not guns, but “pen and mouth”. India must do all it can to encourage and reciprocate this spirit.