Thursday, August 31, 2017

व्यक्तिगत वाहवाही लूटना ही था नोटबंदी का असली उद्देश्य : मोदी

लगा के आग शहर को, ये बादशाह ने कहा
उठा है दिल में तमाशे का आज शौक़ बहुत
झुका के सर को सभी शाह-परस्त बोल उठे
हुज़ूर शौक़ सलामत रहे, शहर और बहुत !


इस लेख के उपलिखित शीर्षक को पढ़ कर घबराइए नहीं, क्योंकि यह एक व्यंग्य है, पर यही नोटबंदी की सच्चाई भी है। प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने ऐसी सत्यपूर्ण ज़िम्मेदारी कभी नहीं ली, पर "दिल को बहलाने को ' ग़ालिब ' ये ख्याल अच्छा है.... !" नोटबंदी द्वारा मोदी जी ने जनता को जिस तरह से सताया है, उस महा-धोखे की भरपाई, इतिहास में शायद ही कोई कर सके। जिस तरह से मोहम्मद बिन तुग़लक़ अपनी सनक भरी योजनाओं के लिए जनता के हितों से खिलवाड़ करता था , उसी तरह प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने भारत की 125 करोड़ जनता को नोटबंदी के आनन - फ़ानन भरे फैसले से सस्ती राजनैतिक वाहवाही बटोरने के लिए ठग लिया है। नोटबंदी के बाद तो अब सनकी मोहम्मद बिन तुग़लक़ भी सोच रहा होगा कि उससे बड़ा सनकी अब भारत की धरती पर अवतरित हो गया है !

रिज़र्व बैंक ऑफ इंडिया की वार्षिक रिपोर्ट ने अब बिलकुल साफ़ कर दिया है कि नोटबंदी के पश्चात भारतवासियों ने अपना सारा पैसा (99%) नगदी व्यवस्था में वापस कर दिया है।  नोटबंदी के कारण ₹15.45 लाख करोड़ का नगद अमान्य घोषित हुआ था, पर भारत के नागरिकों ने उसमे से ₹15.28 लाख करोड़ की राशि लौटा दी।  यानी मात्र ₹16000 करोड़ ही आर्थिकतंत्र में वापस ना आ सके। समझने वाली बात यह है कि इन ₹16000 करोड़ को खोजने के लिए भाजपा सरकार ने अपना पूरा सरकारी तंत्र झोक दिया। कुल ₹25391 करोड़ तो सिर्फ संचालन और नए नोट छापने में ही लग गए। किसी भी पाँचवी कक्षा के बच्चे से भी अगर हम इस साधारण गणित का उत्तर पूछेंगे तो वह इसको नुक्सान ही बताएगा। 8 नवंबर , 2016 की रात जब महान शक्तिशाली, राजनैतिक सूझ-बूझ से ओत-प्रोत, प्रशासकीय अनुभव से लैस मोदी जी ने यह सपने में भी नहीं सोचा होगा, कि जब वह नोटबंदी का यह ‘विशालकाय हवन’ संपन्न करेंगे तो इसका परिणाम इतना उल्टा निकलेगा

नोटबंदी का सबसे बड़ा झूठ तो प्रधानमंत्री जी ने लाल क़िले की प्राचीर से इस साल बोल दिया था। उन्होंने ना पचने वाला एक ऐसा सफ़ेद झूठ इतनी बेबाक़ तरीके से बोला की 'झूठ' पर अध्ययन करने वाले बड़े-बड़े मनोवैज्ञानिक और पेशेवर चिकित्सक भी शरमा जाए। उन्होंने यह दावा किया कि नोटबंदी के बाद, ₹3 लाख करोड़ अर्थव्यवस्था में लौट आये है ! अब ₹16000 करोड़ के आधिकारिक खुलासे के बाद, मोदी जी अभी तक मौन हैं । और उनके वित्तमंत्री जेटली जी फिर एक अच्छे विधिशास्त्र के विद्यार्थी की तरह कानूनी तर्क -वितर्क दिए जा रहें हैं ।

नोटबंदी को लेकर सरकार के प्रवक्ता समय-समय पर, वस्तुस्थिति के मुताबिक़ अपने लक्ष्य और उद्देश्य एक लटकन (पेंडुलम) के मुताबिक झुलाते रहे, और देश की 125 करोड़ जनता इस तमाशे को झेलती रही।  8 नवंबर , 2016 को रात्रि के 8 बजकर 20 मिनट पर जब नोटबंदी का भूचाल हमारे ऊपर गिरा, तब इसका उद्देश्य - काले धन को ख़त्म करना व नकली नोटों से चल रहे आतंकवाद और नक्सलवाद के विनाशकारी धंधे की कब्र खोदना था।  नोटबंदी से ना काला धन ख़त्म हुआ और न ही नकली नोट, ना आतंकवाद का घिनौना चेहरा और न ही नक्सलवाद की साजिशें ! गौर फरमाने वाली बात है की नोटबंदी के बात यह है कि नवम्बर 2016 के बाद हुई 36 बड़े आतंकवाद हमलों में, जम्मू-कश्मीर में अकेले, 46 लोगों की जान चली गयी और 58 जवानों ने अपने प्राणों की आहुति दी । इस फ़ैसले के बाद हुए 13 घातक नक्सली हमलों में 81 लोगो की जाने गयी व 69 जवान शहीद हो गए। 

नोटबंदी की कथा का एक और अध्याय यह है कि ,उसके लागू होने के कुछ ही हफ़्तों बाद, भाजपा की गिरगिट-रूपी सरकार ने यह कहा कि यह 'महान कार्य ' उसने  देश "कैश लेस" बनाने के लिए किया, जिससे की ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा लोग अपने डेबिट-क्रेडिट कार्ड और टेक्नोलॉजी के अन्य माध्यमों से भुक्तान कर सके।  'डिजिटल इंडिया' को प्रोत्साहन देना तो सिर्फ एक बहाना साबित हुआ है, असल में नोटबंदी की भीषण विफलता को जो बचाना था।  रिज़र्व बैंक की वार्षिक रिपोर्ट ने इस दावे का भी पर्दाफ़ाश कर दिया।  रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक 'डिजिटल ट्रांज़ैक्शन्स ' दिसंबर 2016 के महीने पर तो बढ़ें पर मार्च 2017 के आते आते वही पुराने स्तर पर आ गिरे। ज़ाहिर है की नोटबंदी के दौरान तो लोगो ने अपने कार्ड और मोबाइल भुगतान के माध्यमों का इस्तेमाल किया, क्योंकि नगद कम था, पर इतने प्रचार भरे 'डीजी धन मेलों ' और 'भीम ऐप ' होने के बावजूद - खरे नगद पर से अपना नाता नहीं तोड़ा !

मोदी जी की महान सरकार ने फिर भी हार नहीं मानी। उन्होंने कहा की नोटबंदी का एक और लक्ष्य है- ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा लोगो को  संगठित क्षेत्र की मुख्यधारा में लाकर टैक्स का फैलाव बढ़वाना।  यह भी अच्छा मज़ाक है , सी ऐ जी की रिपोर्ट ही इस दावे का भंडाफोड़ करती है।  सरकार कह रही है की इस साल अगस्त तक 2.82 करोड़ लोगो ने आयकर विभाग को अपना कर दाखिल किया, पर  हाल ही की सी ऐ जी की रिपोर्ट  में कहा गया है की पिछले साल (2015-16) इससे अधिक- 3.98 करोड़ लोगो ने आयकर विभाग को अपना कर दाखिल किया था। 

नोटबंदी सिर्फ एक आर्थिक त्रासदी है अपितु एक सामाजिक त्रासदी भी है। देश की अर्थव्यवस्था में 90 % योगदान देने वाला अनौपचारिक-असंगठित क्षेत्र नोटबंदी से सबसे ज़्यादा प्रभावित हुआ था।  किसानों के पास नयी फसल बोने के पैसे नहीं थे, ग्रामीण भारत में हाहाकार मचा हुआ था।  गलियों  में  सामान बेचने वाले, फेरीवाले, रेहड़ी पटरी वाले, खाने-पीने  के  खोमचे , बढ़ई, नाई, धोबी , कारीगर, बिजली कारीगर, रिपेयरमैन, प्लंबर, पोर्टर एवं अन्य कारीगर, कपड़े के व्यापारी, किराना दुकान मालिक, बेकरी, सब्जीवाले और  सब्जी के व्यापारी, अनाज के व्यापारी और विक्रेता, छोटे  व्यापारी एवं दुकानदार आदि सभी इस फैसले से प्रभावित हुए थे।  100 से अधिक लोगों की लाइनों में लगकर जान चली गयी थी- वह चाहे  तनावग्रस्त अवस्था में दिल का दौरा पड़ने से हुई हो या अस्पतालों में भर्ती रोगियों को समय पर उपचार मिलने की वजह से हुई हो ! इन सब परिवारों को भाजपा सरकार ने मुआवज़ा देना तो दूर संसद में शोक संवेदनाये भी नहीं प्रदान की। 


पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री डॉ मनमोहन सिंह  ने संसद में कहा था की नोटबंदी "संगठित लूट" और "कानूनी डाका" है , जिससे की हमारी आर्थिक व्यवस्था को बड़ा धक्का लगेगा।  आज डॉ मनमोहन सिंह की वह बात सच हो गयी क्योंकि भारत की आर्थिक गति अब मंद पड़ गयी है।  इसका ज़िम्मेदार केवल एक व्यक्ति ही है क्योंकि उसने अपने व्यक्तिगत विकास के लिए देश को आर्थिक बर्बादी की राह पर छोड़ दिया है।  


Sunday, July 30, 2017

A New Narrative set by the Congress can still save India

निंदक नियरे राखिए, ऑंगन कुटी छवाय।

बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय।।


- कबीरदास



The commentators and influencers in this country have started writing the epitaph of the Congress party. They have all the right to believe so because since past three years or so, the electoral fortunes of the party have seriously dithered, after the miserable defeat of 2014. Their intense speculation about the future of the Grand Old Party is something which passionate flag bearers like me cannot discount, but are profoundly anguished with. The Liberals are angry at us. But we need to convert that anger into love. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congress party admirer even if I am the last man standing, although I shall do everything within my means to prevent that ‘last man’ scenario.

I know I may be painting a negative picture and some of you who will read you will definitely mock my assessment. Some of you will also question my locus-standi for writing this- since I am also part of that very system, albeit a very small part in which the Congress system works, I am responsible too. And Yes I am.  But, considering that I am an eternal optimist, I shall always say, that even though the initial comment of this writing will force you to doubt my assessment, I shall always yearn that such an eventuality shall never come.

Congress will remain strong and Congress will overcome its present problems. We shall again redeem India and will not let it slip to the darkness. Our ideals and ideology is rock solid and our commitment for Secularism is unflinching. Compassion, brotherhood, love and respect are the pillars which install the foundation of our basis.

A lot is being written and a lot is being said. Yes, there are a lot of inherent flaws with which our inner party system works, but there are innumerable positives also.

The honeymoon period of the Modi Government saw the Congress party believing that since it is the largest and natural political force of governance and the BJP lacks the ability to solidly govern and administer, it will never be able to live up to the expectations of people. This has actually led to its complacency and turning it into a reactive force. “Jab yeh galitiya karenge, abhi nahi toh 5-10 saal baad humara waqt aayega” (When they will make mistakes, not today, but eventually after 5-10 years we will be back in power) was the drawing room chatter of every Congressmen.

Then came a period, where the superficial layers which gloss the BJP’s incompetence began to peel off.  Failures, after failures with time- But at the most the Congress acted as a reactionary force, failing to capitalize the blunders of the ruling dispensation. The single biggest mistake which critics and admirers alike will admit that the Congress party in the UPA era failed to build its cadre, especially in states, where it was weak. An opposition needs a robust and a committed worker. The Congress is a mass based party and not a cadre based one, yet it has certain unique organizational strengths, which it could have tapped into. Its frontals are more or less defunct and at the most have become extremely sycophantic in nature- with almost no vision or plan of action.

Three years now into the dark ages of the Modi Government, where the BJP is using every trick in the political book to expand its hungry fangs to annihilate India, the Congress is making last ditch attempts to somehow foster an opposition unity, without much success. The Nitish Kumar fiasco may have its opportunistic and political strokes, and broad ones indeed, yet the Congress has to somehow take its share of blame too. I know, I will again be accused of crossing the Lakshman Rekha (Red Line) while I try to objectively put forth this assessment, but acceptance of failures, is the first stepping stone to success.

I have been hinting and posting on Social Media, since long, that the Congress needs a positive agenda. A solid, implementable narrative and a new vision to take along those committed liberal voters who still believe in those ideals on which the edifice our Constitution was laid. Time and again, I have come to this conclusion that only a positive narrative can resurrect the Congress.

For starters, we should look at our own 2014 Manifesto. This 45 page document should be our Magna Carta to attack and question the BJP. It will give us more credibility because we shall not be merely criticizing the policies, but also put forth a positive policy solution. “Had the Congress been in power, there were the 5 steps it would have taken to solve agrarian distress”. “These are the steps that the Congress party would have taken to create more jobs”.

It is not that the Congress party is not taking steps to revamp its organizational structure. Election process will complete this year and a new team is slowly and steadily been set up. New General Secretary in-charges for states are being appointed. The Communications department of the party is seeing new faces and a newer strategy for the same is in place now. Research and Social Media wings have also been refurbished and are working with new vigour. Yes, we lack in Media Management, and that needs to be proactively dealt with.  A large section of media has become the mouthpiece for the BJP, and the Congress needs to find an alternate for the same. There are several deficiencies too, which are well known. These need to be resolved.

The voter connect is only possible when you gather small constituencies of groups together and target your liberal supporters. Laziness, complacency and arrogance should be done away with. A strong ideological resolve is needed so as solidify your support base. We all know what ails the Congress party, we also have some solutions.

No political party that has a closed system and secretive in nature can function in a vibrant democracy. We have to open the doors for the converted and to the swing ones.

The Congress should aim for opposition unity, but that does not mean that it can tie up with any political party which is ideologically not at the same page as the Congress. We have seen that in West Bengal and in Uttar Pradesh. Let us not repeat that. The Congress should try and build consensus, but if that is not possible, just leave these regional parties to fend for themselves. We should stop pandering to them. Let us built our own identity, we were successful because we had one. We should not leave it. Opposition unity is good for short term goals, but in the long term, we should strive for our own National space. In states, where we are dependent on regional satraps, we have only declined. Even if we win one seat, it should be on our own.

If we do not implement a positive agenda and restructure ourselves, then even our forefathers, who so painstakingly built this country, will not forgive us for sending India to the dark ages.

All the views expressed in the article by the author are strictly personal.



Monday, July 3, 2017

How the BJP is blundering on India’s 'China Policy'



Five decades ago, on October 7, 1966, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had openly asserted at the press conference on October 7, 1966 that India was committed to protect Bhutan from China. Today, a serious situation is developing at Doklam (also called Donglang), which is part of Bhutan, but is also claimed by China. It is located at a tri-junction of India, Tibet and Bhutan and is close to the 14000 feet high Nathu La pass, through which China has blocked this year's Kailash Mansoravar Yatra, which was much hyped by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi as ‘his government’s gift of a second route for millions of Shiva Bhakts.

A very delicate and extremely serious situation is developing at the Chinese boundary adjoining Sikkim. A month long standoff between the Indian Army and the Chinese Army has taken place- this is the longest standoff between India and China in last 55 years (since 1962) According to media reports, China has destroyed 2 bunkers of the Indian Army at Doklam plateau. There are two key Chinese objectives in initiating the Doklam standoff. First, it seems to be testing India’s resolve to stand by its long cherished friend Bhutan and secondly, China is fostering an aggressive attitude towards the delicate and strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which connects the rest of India to the northeast.

Since the day, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi swung in a “Jhoola” and relished “Dhokla” in Ahmadabad, Gujarat with his Chinese counterpart, China has time and again proceeded to break the land boundary agreement which the then Congress-UPA Government had entered into in 2005 and later signed by both the heads of the state in 2013.

1)    Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas, signed in April 2005 and
2)    Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed in October 2013,

Also, India has underlined that the two Governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding.
We must not forget the fact that Chinese incursions have continuously increased under the BJP Government.

1.    In the past 45 days, 120 Chinese Incursions have taken place, while 240 such incursions have taken place till this month in 2017.

2.    The much hyped second route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La stopped suddenly by China has dealt a severe blow to India’s diplomatic image. Despite the Chinese Army destroying the facilities built for the Indian pilgrims, the BJP Government did not pay any heed to the miseries of the pilgrims, till they started posting videos and pictures of the Chinese Army’s destroying them. The stoic silence and inaction by the BJP Government is for all of us to see.

3.    On June 4, 2017: Two Chinese Army choppers violated the Indian airspace, by hovering over Chamoli district. On previous occasions, Chinese helicopters had entered 4.5 kilometres into Indian territory, an area that China claims as its own in Barahoti ,Uttarakhand

4.    Border disputes with China have again reached center stage with repeated breaches and incursions by the Chinese forces along the international border; However, in March , this year - the MoS  Defence in a written reply to the Parliament says that there were “No Chinese Incursions, Only Transgressions

5.    Earlier Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has said, that “Chinese Intrusion are only Perception”

There have been multiple occasions where this BJP Government has failed to secure India’s National Interests, viz-a-viz China:

1.    China vetoes declaration of Masood Azhar as an ‘international terrorist’ under Pakistan’s pressure

2.    China blocks India’s membership of ‘Nuclear Suppliers Group’ asking for parity with rogue Pakistan.

3.    China opposes India’s membership of UN Security Council.

4.    On Dec 19, 2016; Russia extended support to China-Pak Economic Corridor & expressed intent to connect it with Eurasian Economic Union.

5.   China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $54 billion built through PoK/Balochistan connecting Gwadar Port in Arabian Sea to China with base for Chinese submarines- Does it not compromise India’s Sovereign right over POK & affect our strategic interests?

6.    China renames six places in Arunachal Pradesh on its official map.

7.    Nepal accusing the Government of India of interference in its domestic matters.

8.    Sri Lankan Government refusing to sign the comprehensive Economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India. China-sponsored infrastructure developments in neighboring Sri Lanka offer an instructive lesson. Numerous infrastructure projects, negotiated in secret by the former Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, saddled the Sri Lankan treasury with debts to China estimated at some $8 billion. Sri Lanka cannot repay what it owes, so it has negotiated a debt-for-equity swap of the Hambantota Port project.

9.    India is feeling increasingly isolated on its stand with respect to the grandiose One Belt, One Road (OBOR) imitative by China, which hosted Russian President, Vladimir Putin as its chief guest. The general perception amongst experts is that India could have been a part of the initial meetings and then shown its strident opposition to China and Pakistan constructing road through Gilgit-Baltistan- an integral part of India.

China has exponentially expanded strategic, economic & defense partnerships with Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This maximalist position of China to encircle India and cramp its strategic space has been highlighted time and again by strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney.

It is pertinent to note that, during PM Modi’s recent visit to the United States, he did not raise any issue which affected India-China relations. Be it China stalling India’s entry into the NSG or China blocking Masood Azhar’s name to be declared as a ‘global terrorist. 

The UPA- Congress Govt approved the raising of ‘Mountain Strike Corps’ along the China border with 90,274 additional soldiers at a cost of Rs 64,678 Crore . After the  BJP came to power, it has put this project into deep freezer. This Mountain Strike Corps could have been useful in today's standoff, but the BJP has lost this opportunity.


This is what happens when you appoint either a ‘Reluctant’ Defence Minister or a ‘Part Time’ Defence Minister

Monday, June 5, 2017

Indira Gandhi's Speech at the Stockholm Conference in 1972

Man And Environment 


Smt. Indira Gandhi 
(late Prime Minister of India) 
Plenary Session of United Nations Conference on Human Environment 
Stockholm 14th June, 1972 



Indira Gandhi in the gardens at Anand Bhawan, her ancestral home

It is indeed an honour to address this Conference-in itself a fresh expression of the spirit which created the United Nations-concern for the present and future welfare of humanity. It does not aim merely at securing limited agreements but at establishing peace and harmony in life-among all races and with Nature. This gathering represents man's earnest endeavour to understand his own condition and to prolong his tenancy of this planet. A vast amount of detailed preparatory work has gone into the convening of this Conference guided by the dynamic personality of Mr. Maurice Strong the Secretary General.

I have had the good fortune of growing up with a sense of kinship with nature in all its manifestations. Birds, plants, stones were companions and, sleeping under the star-strewn sky, I became familiar with the names and movements of the constellations. But my deep interest in this our `only earth' was not for itself but as a fit home for man.

One cannot be truly human and civilized unless one looks upon not only all fellow-men but all creation with the eyes of a friend. Throughout India, edicts carved on rocks and iron pillars are reminders that 22 centuries ago the Emperor Ashoka defined a King's duty as not merely to protect citizens and punish wrongdoers but also to preserve animal life and forest trees. Ashoka was the first and perhaps the only monarch until very recently, to forbid the killing of a large number of species of animals for sport or food, foreshadowing some of the concerns of this Conference. He went further, regretting the carnage of his military conquests and enjoining upon his successors to find "their only pleasure in the peace that comes through righteousness".

Along with the rest of mankind, we in India--in spite of Ashoka have been guilty of wanton disregard for the sources of our sustenance. We share you concern at the rapid deterioration of flora and fauna. Some of our own wildlife has been wiped out, miles of forests with beautiful old trees, mute witnesses of history, have been destroyed. Even though our industrial development is in its infancy, and at its most difficult stage, we are taking various steps to deal with incipient environmental imbalances. The more so because of our concern for the human being--a species which is also imperiled. In poverty he is threatened by malnutrition and disease, in weakness by war, in richness by the pollution brought about by his own prosperity.

It is said that in country after country, progress should become synonymous with an assault on nature. We who are a part of nature and dependent on her for very need, speak constantly about "exploiting" nature. When the highest mountain in the world was climber in 1953, Jawaharlal Nehru objected to the phrase "conquest of Everest" which he thought was arrogant. It is surprising that this lack of consideration and the constant need to prove one's superiority should be projected onto our treatment of our fellowmen? I remember Edward Thompson, a British writer and a good friend of India, once telling Mr. Gandhi that wildlife was fast disappearing. Remarked the Mahatma--"It is decreasing in the jungles but it is increasing in the town".

We are gathered here under the aegis of the United Nations. We are supposed to belong to the same family sharing common traits and impelled by the same basic desires, yet we inhabit a divided world.

How can it be otherwise? There is still no recognition of the equality of man or respect for him as an individual. In matters of colour and race, religion and custom, society is governed by prejudice. Tensions arise because of man's aggressiveness and notions of superiority. The power of the big stick prevails and it is used not in favour of fair play or beauty, but to chase imaginary windmills--to assume the right to interfere in the affairs of others, and to arrogate authority for action which would not normally be allowed. Many of the advanced countries of today have reached their present affluence by their domination over other races and countries, the exploitation of their own natural resources. They got a head start through sheer ruthlessness, undisturbed by feelings of compassion or by abstract theories of freedom, equality or justice. The stirrings of demands for the political rights of citizens, and the economic rights of the toiler came after considerable advance had been made. The riches and the labour of the colonized countries played no small part in the industrialization and prosperity of the West. Now, as we struggle to create a better life for our people, it is in vastly different circumstances, for obviously in today's eagle-eyed watchfulness we cannot indulge in such practices even for a worthwhile purpose. We are bound by our own ideals. We owe allegiance to the principles of the rights of workers and the norms enshrined in the charters of international organizations. Above all we are answerable to the millions of politically awakened citizens in our countries. All these make progress costlier and more complicated.

On the one hand the rich look askance at our continuing poverty--on the other, they warn us against their own methods. We do not wish to impoverish the environment any further and yet we cannot for a moment forget the grim poverty of large numbers of people. Are not poverty and need the greatest polluters? For instance, unless we are in a position to provide employment and purchasing power for the daily necessities of the tribal people and those who live in or around our jungles, we cannot prevent them from combing the forest for food and livelihood; from poaching and from despoiling the vegetation. When they themselves feel deprived, how can we urge the preservation of animals? How can we speak to those who live in villages and in slums about keeping the oceans, the rivers and the air clean when their own lives are contaminated at the source? The environment cannot be improved in conditions of poverty. Nor can poverty be eradicated without the use of science and technology.

Must there be conflict between technology and a truly better world or between enlightenment of the spirit and a higher standard of living? Foreigners sometimes ask what to us seems a very strange question, whether progress in India would not mean diminishing of her spirituality or her values. Is spiritual quality so superficial as to be dependent upon the lack of material comfort? As a country we are not more or less spiritual than any other but traditionally our people have respected the spirit of detachment and renunciation. Historically, our great spiritual discoveries were made during periods of comparative affluence. The doctrines of detachment from possessions were developed not as rationalization of deprivation but to prevent comfort and ease from dulling the senses. Spirituality means the enrichment of the spirit, the strengthening of ones inner resources and the stretching of one's range of experience. It is the ability to be still in the midst of activity and vibrantly alive in moments of calm; to separate the essence from circumstances; to accept joy and sorrow with some equanimity. Perception and compassion are the marks of true spirituality.

I am reminded of an incident in one of our tribal areas. The vociferous demand of elder tribal chiefs that their customs should be left undisturbed found support from noted anthropologists. In its anxiety that the majority should not submerge the many ethnic, racial and cultural groups in our country, the Government of India largely accepted this advice. I was amongst those who entirely approved. However, a visit to remote part of our north-east frontier brought me in touch with a different point of view-the protest of the younger elements that while the rest of India was on the way to modernization they were being preserved as museum pieces. Could we not say the same to the affluent nations?

For the last quarter of a century, we have been engaged in an enterprise unparalled in human history--the provision of basic needs to one-sixth of mankind within the span of one or two generations. When we launched on that effort our early planners had more than the usual gaps to fill. There was not enough data and no helpful books. No guidance could be sought from the experience of other countries whose conditions--political, economic, social and technological--were altogether different. Planning in the sense we were innovating, had never been used in the context of a mixed economy. But we could not wait. The need to improve the conditions of our people was pressing. Planning and action, the improvement of data leading to better planning and better action, all this was a continuous and overlapping process. Our industrialization tended to follow the paths which the more advanced countries had traversed earlier. With the advance of the 60's and particularly during the last five years, we have encountered a bewildering collection of problems, some due to our shortcomings but many inherent in the process and in existing attitudes. The feeling is growing that we should re-order our priorities and move away from the single-dimensional model which has viewed growth from certain limited angles, which seems to have given a higher place to things rather than to persons and which has increased our wants rather than our enjoyment. We should have a more comprehensive approach to life, centred on man not as a statistic but an individual with many sides to his personality. The solution of these problems cannot be isolated phenomena of marginal importance but must be an integral part of the unfolding of the very process of development.

The extreme forms in which questions of population or environmental pollution are posed, obscure the total view of political, economic and social situations. The Government of India is one of the few which has an officially sponsored programme of family planning and this is making some progress. We believe that planned families will make for a healthier and more conscious population. But we know also that no programme of population control can be effective without education and without a visible rise in the standard of living. Our own programmes have succeeded in the urban or semi-urban areas. To the very poor, every child is an earner and a helper. We ar experimenting with new approaches and the family planning programme is being combined with those of maternity and child welfare, nutrition and development in general.

It is an over--simplification to blame all the world's problems on increasing population. Countries with but a small fraction of the world population consume the bulk of the world's production of minerals, fossil fuels and so on. Thus we see that when it comes to the depletion of natural resources and environmental pollution, the increase of one inhabitant in an affluent country., at his level of living, is equivalent to an increase of many Asian, Africans or Latin Americans at their current material levels of living.

The inherent conflict is not between conservation and development, but between environment and reckless exploitation of man and earth in the name of efficiency. Historians tell us that the modern age began with the will to freedom of the individual. And the individual came to believe that the had rights with no corresponding obligations. The man who got ahead was the one who commanded admiration. No questions were asked as to the methods employed or the price which others had to pay. The industrial civilization has promoted the concept of the efficient man, he whose entire energies are concentrated on producing more in a given unit of time and from a given unit of manpower. Groups or individuals who ar less competitive and according to this test, less efficient are regarded as lesser breeds--for example the older civilizations, the black and brown peoples, women and certain professions. Obsolescence is built into production, and efficiency is based on the creation of goods which are not really needed and which cannot be disposed of when discarded. What price such efficiency now, and is not recklessness a more appropriate term for such a behaviour?

All the `isms' of the modern age--even those which in theory disown the private profit principle--assume that man's cardinal interest is acquisition. The profit motive, individual or collectives, seems to overshadow all else. This overriding concern with self and Today is the basic cause of the ecological crisis.

Pollution is not a technical problem. The fault lies not in science and technology as such but in the sense of values of the contemporary world which ignores the rights of others and is oblivious of the longer perspective.

There are grave misgivings that the discussion on ecology may be designed to distract attention from the problems of war and poverty. We have to prove to the disinherited majority of the world that ecology and conservation will not work against their interest but will bring an improvement in their lives. To withhold technology from them would deprive them of vast resources of energy and knowledge. This is no longer feasible not will it be acceptable.

The environmental problems of developing countries are not the side effects of excessive industrialization but reflect the inadequacy of development. The rich countries may look upon development as the cause of environmental destruction, but to us it is one of the primary means of improving the environment for living, or providing food, water, sanitation and shelter; of making the deserts green and the mountains habitable. The research and perseverance of dedicated people have given us an insight which is likely to play an important part in the shaping of our future plans. We see that however much man hankers after material goods, they can never give him full satisfaction. Thus the higher standard of living must be achieved without alienating people from their heritage and without despoiling nature of its beauty, freshness and purity so essential to our lives.

The most urgent and basic question is that of peace. Nothing is so pointless as modern warfare. Nothing destroys so instantly, so completely as the diabolic weapons which not only kill but maim and deform the living and the yet to be born; which poison the land, leaving long trails of ugliness, barrenness and hopeless desolation. What ecological projects can survive a war? The Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr. Olof Palme, has already drawn the attention of the Conference to this in powerful words.

It is clear that the environmental crisis which is confronting the world, will profoundly alter the future destiny or our planet. No one among us, whatever our status, strength or circumstance can remain unaffected. The process of change challenges present international policies. Will the growing awareness of "one earth" and "one environment' guide us to the concept of "one humanity"? Will there be a more equitable sharing of environmental costs and greater international interest in the accelerated progress of the less developed world? Or, will it remain confined to a narrow concern, based on exclusive self-sufficiency?

The first essays in narrowing economic and technological disparities have not succeeded because the policies of aid were made to subserve the equations of power. We hope that the renewed emphasis on self-reliance, brought a about by the change in the climate for aid, will also promote search for new criteria of human satisfaction. In the meantime, the ecological crises should not add to the burdens of the weaker nations by introducing new considerations in the political and trade policies of rich nations. It would be ironic if the fight against pollution were to be converted into another business, out of which a few companies, corporations, or nations would make profits at the cost of the many. Here is a branch of experimentation and discovery in which scientist of all nations should take interest. They should ensure that their findings are available to all nations, unrestricted by patents. I am glad that the Conference has given thought on this aspect of the problem.

Life is one and the world is one, and all these questions are inter-linked. The population explosion; poverty; ignorance and disease, the pollution of our surroundings, the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and biological and chemical agents of destruction are all parts of a vicious circle. Each is important and urgent but dealing with them one by one would be wasted effort.
It serves little purpose to dwell on the past or to apportion blame, no one of us is blameless. If some are able to dominate over others, it is at least partially due to the weakness, the lack of unity and the temptation of gaining some advantage on the part of those who submit. If the prosperous have been exploiting the needy, can we honestly claim that in our own societies people do not take advantage of the weaker sections? We must re-evaluate the fundamentals on which our respective civic societies are based and the ideals by which they are sustained. If there is to be a change of heart, a change of direction and methods of functioning, it is not an organization or a country-no matter how well intentioned--which can achieve it. While each country must deal with that aspect of the problem which is most relevant to it, it is obvious that all countries must unite in an overall endeavour. There is no alternative to a cooperative approach on a global scale to the entire spectrum of our problems.

I have referred to some problems which seem to me to be the underlying causes of the present crises in our civilization. This is not in the expectation that this Conference can achieve miracles or solve all the world's difficulties, but in the hope that the opinions of each national will be kept in focus, that these problems will be viewed in perspective and each project devised as part of the whole.

On a previous occasion I have spoken of the unfinished revolution in our countries I am now convinced that this can be taken to its culmination when it is accompanied by a revolution in social thinking. In 1968 at the 14th General Conference of UNESCO the Indian delegation, along with others, proposed a new and major programme entitled "a design for living". This is essential to grasp the full implications of technical advance and its impact on different sections and groups. We do not want to put the clock back or resign ourselves to a simplistic natural state. We want new directions in the wiser use of the knowledge and tools with which science has equipped us. And this cannot be just one upsurge but a continuous search into cause and effect and an unending effort to match technology with higher levels of thinking. We must concern ourselves not only with the kind of world we want but also with what kind of man should inhabit it. Surely we do not desire a society divided into those who condition and those who are conditioned. We want thinking people capable of spontaneous self-directed activity, people who are interested and interesting, and who are imbued with compassion and concern for others.

It will not be easy for large societies to change their style of living. They cannot be coerced to do so, nor can governmental action suffice. People can be motivated and urged to participate in better alternatives.

It has been my experience that people who are at cross purposes with nature are cynical about mankind and ill-at-ease with themselves. Modern man must re-establish an unbroken link with nature and with life. He must again learn to invoke the energy of growing things and to recognize, as did the ancients in India centuries ago, that one can take from the Earth and the atmosphere only so much as one puts back into them. In their hymn to Earth, the sages of the Atharva Veda chanted-I quote,

"What of thee I dig out, let that quickly grow over, Let menot hit thy vitals, or thy heart".So can man himself be vital and of good heart andconscious of his responsibility


This speech can be found here.