Ministership: Rao approached IG Patel twice

Twice the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao approached economist I G Patel to join his cabinet and the second time, it was as a “back-up” if his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh resigned.

This is revealed in a new book ‘1991: How P V Narasimha Rao Made History’ by journalist-academician Sanjaya Baru, who was also media adviser to Singh when he became Prime Minister in 2004.

Patel, who was close Morarji Desai in 1970s and earned global reputation, was Rao’s first choice as Finance Minister but when the Baroda-settled economist refused, he turned to Singh, who accepted it.

The name of Patel once again came to Rao’s mind when P Chidambaram, the handling Commerce Ministry, submitted his resignation in July 1992 over allegations of financial impropriety believing that Rao would reject his offer. However, Rao had other plans and accepted the resignation.


“It is only after IG and PV (Rao) passed away that I learnt that PV had approached IG a second time, inviting him again to join his council of ministers,” Baru writes. Rao’s close friend and journalist Kalyani Shankar believes the then Prime Minister wanted to offer Commerce portfolio to Patel after Chidambaram’s resignation.

“On the other hand, PV’s aide and media adviser (PVRK) Prasad does not rule out the possibility that PV wanted another economist in the government as a back-up just in case Singh chose to quit, unable to deal with political attacks against him from within the Congress,” the book says.

Singh had at least thrice offered to quit following attacks from within Congress. Third time, Rao sent Prasad to get Singh to withdraw his resignation saying, “Dr Manmohan Singh is allergic to politicians. That is why I cannot send a politician to persuade him.”

Coming after Jairam Ramesh’s ‘To the Brink and Back’ and Vinay Sitapati’s ‘Half Lion: How P V Narasimha Rao Transformed India’ on Rao’s life and tenure as Prime Minister, the new book tries to tell the story of economic reforms through the year 1991. It also talks about the problems faced by previous government under Chandra Shekhar.

Referring to the downfall of Chandra Shekhar government, Baru feels that Chandrasekhar stumped Rajiv Gandhi with his resignation in 1991 after Congress upped ante over the ‘snooping’ incident.

Rajiv requested Sharad Pawar to intervene on his behalf and get Chandra Sekhar to withdraw his resignation. Chandra Sekhar told Pawar, “Go back and tell him that Chandra Shekhar does not change his mind three times a day.”

Sep 26, 2016

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Govt wants image make-over for police stations

Existing police station buildings are “ambience-wise pathetic, space-wise inadequate and cleanliness-wise extremely poor” and government wants an image make over for such facilities.

It is now preparing uniform guidelines for police station buildings and has sought opinion from stakeholders for improving the draft made by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD).

The draft is being prepared keeping in mind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SMART Police, a senior official said.


According to the ‘Draft Concept Paper of Guidelines/Norms for Modern Police Station Buildings 2016’, it is important that all new such buildings should be so designed that people feel at “ease and comfortable in terms of space, cleanliness, functionality and privacy” and police personnel can perform their “duties smoothly”.

Though the space earmarked for police stations in metro, major city, semi-urban and rural areas are different, all such facilities should have certain common facilities.

It should have disabled friendly entry, separate toilets for men, women and disabled, women help desk, rest rooms and toilets for personnel.

There should be a separate office room with an attached toilet for women personnel while an attached individual rest room should be there for Station House Officers and Inspectors who work for long hours.

Lockups should be provided an internal toilet with low walls, whose edges should be rounded. It should be monitored through 24X7 CCTV.

Police stations should have a gymnasium besides separate recreation room for personnel staying in the barracks. Also, a room should be there where police can counsel the complainant on small matters.

It also talks about adopting a uniform colour code on external surface of buildings throughout a state would make it easier for a common man to easily recognize police stations.

The draft also talks about police stations in insurgency hit areas — eight feet high parameter wall, barbed/concertina wire fencing over boundary wall, watch towers, blocks on approach roads to police station, CCTV scanning, alternate communication system and emergency alarm system.

“In India, today, many police station buildings are not suitable as far as optimum functional requirement is concerned. There is a need to provide functional spaces as per present requirement for smooth working of police personnel,” the draft said.

The government is revising a 2005 document prepared by CPWD, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and Karnataka Police Housing Corporation to ensure that the changed times is reflected in buildings, the official said. The concept paper was first put out last year and revised later with further inputs.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 21, 2016)

NHRC takes up cow vigilantism


(Four men were stripped and beaten over suspicion of killing a cow in Gujarat — screen shot of a video)

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Centre to inform about the action taken against cow vigilantism following a complaint it received citing at least 15 incidents of attacks on people this year alone.

Delhi-based lawyer K R Subhash Chandran had approached the NHRC last month seeking action against such groups, armed with data in which he claimed that at least three persons were killed and around 40 physically attacked by cow vigilantes.

Acting on the complaint, the NHRC has asked the MHA to take appropriate action within eight weeks.

“The authority concerned is directed to take appropriate action within eight weeks and inform the complainant of the action taken in the matter,” the NHRC communique to the MHA said.

The complaint submitted to the NHRC said the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in his home in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015 on suspicion that he consumed beef has been followed by a “rash of attacks by cow vigilante groups” across north India.

“At least three people have been killed this year so far, and several beaten, flogged and subjected to severe indignities. Recently in Gujarat, the flogging of Dalits for skinning a dead cow has triggered spontaneous street protests by the Dalits and minorities,” it said.

The petition had asked for a direction to authorities to take appropriate steps to protect the human rights of different lower caste-minority communities and ensure their rehabilitation.

Chandran told DH that if the government had taken appropriate action at the time of Akhlaq’s killing, further incidents would not have happened. “The inaction from the authorities emboldened cow vigilante groups,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in August called cow vigilantes “anti-social” while opposition parties had criticised him for his silence on not acting against them.

In a statement on Monday, the CPI(M) Central Committee called for a ban on cow vigilante groups saying, such organisations should not be permitted to take law into their hands. “Such private storm troopers cannot be permitted to run amok,” it added.


Brief details of incidents involving cow vigilante groups in 2016 (from the complaint)


Jan 2: 2 trucks allegedly carrying buffalo tallow stopped in Rupnagar district; 1 truck torched; both drivers fled.
Mar 28: Truck allegedly carrying buffalo tallow stopped on Rupnagar-Kurali road; driver Balkar Singh thrashed.
Jul 31: Rakesh Kumar, Ramesh Kumar beaten for allegedly slaughtering cows outside Malout, Muktsar district.


July 11: A group of 35 gau rakshaks attacked 7 Dalits in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir Somnath district, accusing them of slaughtering a cow. Beat them with iron rods and sticks, kidnapped four Dalits and took them to Una, tied them to a car and flogged them publicly through the town. 7 Dalits were admitted to hospital. 5 gau rakshaks and a mob of 35 booked for attempt to murder and for subjecting SCs to atrocities. 31 persons, including two minor boys, held. Dalits have said they were merely skinning a dead cow.

July 27: Girish Sosa of Navsari, who was carrying cattle meat in a plastic bag, beaten up by gau rakshaks.


Apr 2: Body of Mustain (27), of Saharanpur, missing since March 6, found in Kurukshetra. His father, Tahir Hasan, accused 4 Gau Raksha Dal members of his murder. On May 9, the High Court ordered a CBI probe.
May 6: 3 people thrashed Waseem, 20, in Sohna alleging he was carrying beef, a fourth recorded beating, others threatened victim with a gun. Later, vigilantes posed for photographs with the “catch”. FIR against Waseem; no case against the vigilantes.
Jun 10: Gau rakshaks force-fed Rizwan and Mukhtiar a cowdung mixture after intercepting them allegedly ferrying beef in Faridabad.


Mar 18: Cattle traders Majloom Ansari (35) and Imtiyaz Khan (12) were beaten, robbed and hanged from a tree in Jhabra village in the Balumath police station area of Latehar district. Police arrested 5 of the 8 accused; the other 3 subsequently surrendered in court. One accused, Mithilesh Sahu, belongs to a cow vigilante group, the others are his associates.

Madhya Pradesh

Jan 13: Gau rakshaks thrashed a Muslim couple for objecting to their bags being searched at Khirkiya railway station. A bag from which meat was seized did not belong to them.
Jan 28: Police and vigilantes raided home of Anwar Mev, office-bearer of BJP’s minority cell, in Tonk Khurd and allegedly recovered meat that they claimed was beef. Mev, 8 male relatives were arrested.
Jul 26: 2 Muslim women beaten at Mandsaur railway station on suspicion of carrying beef. 4 men, 2 women seen assaulting the women in a video arrested.


Mar 14: Local students had a run-in with Kashmiri students alleging the latter cooked beef in the hostel of the private Mewar University in Chittorgarh. 4 Kashmiri students arrested; released on bail. Lab report said the meat was not beef.
May 31: At a picket in Chhoti Sadadi, Pratapgarh, vigilantes caught 7 for transporting 96 bullocks in two trucks; 100-150-strong mob beat up 3 truck occupants, set truck on fire, and attacked police when they tried to intervene. 3 FIRs lodged; 2 against the alleged transporters, 1 against the mob that allegedly included Bajrang Dal members

Jammu and Kashmir/Himachal Pradesh

No attacks this year in either state

However, on October 18, 2015, the cleaner of a truck, Zahid Ahmad of Anantnag, died of burns suffered during the petrol-bombing of the Valley-bound vehicle on October 9 in Udhampur by a local mob protesting a “beef party” hosted by independent MLA Engineer Rashid in Srinagar a few days earlier. The alleged attackers were charged under the Public Safety Act.

In Himachal, Noman, 20, was lynched in Lawasa village in Sirmour district on October 17, 2015, allegedly by villagers who chased the truck in which he was ferrying cows to Saharanpur. 4 of Noman’s associates and half a dozen villagers were booked; the latter were, however, released on bail by HC.

Andhra Pradesh

Aug 8: Two Dalit men have been brutally beaten up by cow vigilantes in a village in Andhra Pradesh after they were called in to carry away a dead cow. While the two men from the Madiga community were skinning the cow, the gau rakshaks accused them of killing it and then went on to beat them up. One of them is admitted in hospital in a serious condition. The attack happened near Aamalapuram in Kakinada district.

 (An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 20, 2016)

Kashmir: Narratives that slip through stones and pellets

Stones have been flung a million times in the past over 60 days while pellet shots in hundreds have blinded scores. Those stones hurled by protesters and pellets fired by security personnel now symbolise a growing alienation of the Kashmir valley. Both sides are busy weaving their narratives, updating it to their convenience and selling it to their constituencies. There is no middle ground here. If one raises the injuries suffered by the Kashmiri youth during their fight, the nationalist counter is ready with the injury count of the security personnel fighting the ‘enemies’. The heaven on the earth — the Kashmir valley — has now been reduced to a slinging match of narratives and its competing counters. The deadly attack in Uri is likely to reinforce it.

No one will ever say that peace reigned in Kashmir till July 8 when the self-styled commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the security forces. The protests were there but Kashmir was not on fire as it was earlier. But the July 8 incident changed the scenario. Violent protests erupted across the valley, not just limited to Srinagar or its outskirts. Stones, pellets and bullets were followed by rhetoric from both sides. However, it appears there was no effort or attempt to understand or tell people on both sides of the divide why Kashmir erupted in anger. Was it just the manifestation of anti-India feelings? Why suddenly Kashmiri youths were on streets? Was it the pent up anger? If so, what made them remain silent in the last two-three years? Did the mainstream India try to understand that?


(A man shows his tooth to an Indian policemen as he seeks permission to see a doctor after he was stopped during a curfew in Srinagar. Photo by Reuters)

One-upmanship seems to be the mantra of the political class in dealing with Kashmir. A convenient narrative on Kashmir is now built around separatists and the BJP-led NDA government’s tough stand on Pakistan by raking up Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Separatist leaders are now depicted as parasites of the Indian system. The best example was the remarks by two senior government functionaries on the eve of the crucial meeting of an all-party delegation that visited. Their comments on the plans to curtail the ‘freebies’ to separatists like security made screaming headlines but in hours Home Minister Rajnath Singh told political leaders that there was no such plan. While some were gleeful about such news reports, one has to think whether such duplicity help in solving a crisis. How will one solve a problem if it thinks that it will not involve a particular set of stakeholders, even if they have lost their teeth?

Another issue which Kashimiris were raising was the use of pellet guns. The use of this crowd controlling weapon had invited the wrath of the common man as well as rights activists. The continued use of pellet guns despite a replacement in PAVA shells have also not gone down well. Except a few, almost all parties call for not using pellet guns. The horrifying pictures of those struck with pellet guns should be enough for not using it. Fresh violence erupted in the valley on September 17 when the pellet-ridden body of a 13-year-old boy was found in Srinagar. Before that, over 500 people suffered eye injuries due to pellet shots and many of them were blinded. Questions will surely rise why pellet guns are not used against Patidar protesters in Gujarat or Jat agitators in Haryana. One should know that winning the hearts of a Kashmiri is not through pellet guns. Every shot from pellet guns will be further alienating Kashmiris. The government should know that what they are fighting for is not a valley of blinds.

The rhetoric in mainstream media – both in print and visual – is also not adding to the efforts to find an end to the present imbroglio. The jingoistic positions are not going to help. Perception management is fine but media does not need to gulp the official line without questioning. Several theories are floated for reinforcing the official position from the change in character of the struggle in Kashmir to the regressive Islamist genre of Wahabism to the suspicious funding for the protests that erupted after Wani’s killing. Before spreading the theories one needs to also provide proof for theories like Wahabi elements taking over the leadership and changing the character of their protests from ‘azadi’ to setting up an Islamist state. Till recently, this argument was not put forward. Even then, if this argument is right, another question arises – how the character of the protest changed and what are the reasons for it? In a democracy, people need to be told the truth.

While dealing with Kashmir, one cannot forget that Pakistan do create trouble from across the border. It has to be isolated in international community for its support for terrorism. The nurturing of the terror infrastructure by Pakistan has to be exposed. Again, one has to think twice before taking a line “for one tooth, the complete jaw”. The attack on the brigade headquarters in Uri has come at a bad time for the country as it is struggling to bring peace to Kashmir. New Delhi is rightly angry. The attack has the potential of jeopardising whatever little the political process had gained during the past few weeks after the visit of an all-party delegation. The political leadership and policy makers should ensure that the attack do not have a bearing on New Delhi’s engagement with Kashmiris. The attack should not be used to further becoming hawkish in the valley. A militarist approach inside the valley may go against the gains what New Delhi wants to garner.

(An edited version appeared in Panorama section of Deccan Herald on Sep 20, 2016)

Infant mortality rate on decline

In good news, a latest government statistics has showed that the infant mortality rate has come down to 39 in 2014 from 57 in 2006.

The report showed that one in every 26 infant still dies within one year of their life. It was one in every 25 children in 2013 and one in every 23 in 2011.

The rate of deaths of infants has been on the decline for the past decade with consecutive Sample Registration System Statical Reports showing the positive development.


“The IMR (infant mortality rate) has come down to 39 in 2014 from 50 in 2009, a decline of 11 points over last 5 years and an annual average decline of about 1.6 points,” the 2014 report said. In 2013, it was 40 infant deaths per every 1,000 births.

The IMR in 2006 was 57 while it decreased constantly over years to 55 (2007), 53 (2008), 50 (2009), 47 (2010), 44 (2011) and 42 in 2012.


Infant Mortality Rate 2014


Best States


Infant Mortality Rate



Worst States


Infant Mortality Rate

Kerala 12 Madhya Pradesh 52
Delhi/Tamil Nadu 20 Assam/Odisha 49
Maharashtra 22 Uttar Pradesh 48
Punjab 24 Rajasthan 46
West Bengal 28 Chhattisgarh 43









The rate of deaths among male infants (37) is less compared to female infants (40).

Among the states, Kerala has the best figures at 12 while the Madhya Pradesh had the worst figures of 52. Assam and Odisha had second worst figures at 49 while Uttar Pradesh followed it with 48.

The national capital Delhi and Tamil Nadu had an impressive figure compared to other states as it was just behind Kerala at 20.

In South India, Andhra Pradesh had the worst record at 39. Karnataka had a figure of 29 and ranked sixth in the order of best performer.


** IMR in – Rural/43 Urban/26

** IMR (National) – Boys/37 Girls/40

** Female infants had a higher mortality than male infants in all states except Tamil Nadu and

Assam. In Tamil Nadu and Assam, both sex had the same IMR.

Source: SRS Statistical Report 2014


Though still high in numbers compared to urban areas, rural areas recorded the fastest decline.

The corresponding decline in rural IMR has been 12 points (55 in 2009 to 43 in 2014) against a decline of eight points in urban IMR (34 in 2009 to 26 in 2014). Both the gender have shown decline in the period 2009-14, the report said.

The neo-natal (less than 29 days) mortality rate is 26 and ranges from 15 in urban areas to 30 in rural areas. Among the bigger States, neo-natal mortality ranges from 36 in Odisha to six in Kerala. Among the bigger states, Uttarakhand 78.9 registered the highest percentage of neo-natal deaths to infant deaths and the lowest in Assam 52.5.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 17, 2016)

Image courtesy:

Again, bad news for girls


(The Window to Nowhere- Mar24/2016/NewDelhi/Sj)

Girls continue to receive bad news in the country with the latest government statistics showing that the number of girls being born has fallen.

The Sample Registration (SRS) Statistical Report 2012-14 shows that the sex ratio at birth has fallen by three points to 906 (female for every 1,000 male) during 2012-14 compared to 909 in 2011-13.

This is the first time a dip in sex ratio at birth was reported since the SRS report 2008-10 when it was 905. In the 2009-11 report, it rose to 906 and 908 in 2010-12.

Kerala has the highest sex ratio at birth at 974 during 2012-14 replacing Chhattisgarh, which topped since 2008-10 survey. The ratio for Chhattisgarh now is 970, which had once reported 991 in 2009-11.


** In 14 of 21 bigger states, rural areas have higher the sex ratio at child birth than in rural areas.

** The gap between rural and urban areas in Chhattisgarh is the highest at 61 points – 982 in rural and 921 in urban.

** Jharkhand too has high disparity – 918 in rural and 867 in urban areas

  • SRS Statistical Report the largest demographic survey covering about 1.7 million households and 7.5 million population.
  • Mandated to provide annual estimates of fertility as well as mortality indicators at the state and national level.


Odisha (953), West Bengal (952) and Karnataka (950) are in the top five among 21 big states, according to the report.

The worst scenario is in Haryana where the figure is 866 girl children born for every 1000 male children while Delhi is also among the worst performing state with 876.

 These two states are among eight big states — Uttar Pradesh (869), Punjab (870), Uttarakhand (871), Delhi (876), Rajasthan (893), Maharashtra (896) and Jammu and Kashmir (899) — which have a sex ratio at birth below 900.

Rural areas gave birth to more girls in comparison to urban areas. In 14 of 21 bigger states, rural areas have higher sex ratio at child birth than in rural areas.


Number of Girls per 100 boys at birth

State 2012-14 2011-13 2010-12 2009-11 2008-10
Kerala 974 966 966 965 966
Chhattisgarh 973 970 979 991 985
Odisha 953 956 948 946 938
West Bengal 952 943 944 941 938
Karnataka 950 958 950 945 943
All India 906 909 908 906 905


The gap between rural and urban areas in Chhattisgarh is the highest at 61 points – 982 in rural and 921 in urban. Jharkhand too has high disparity – 918 in rural and 867 in urban areas.

In rural areas, the highest and the lowest sex ratio at birth are in Chhattisgarh 982 and Punjab 863 respectively. The sex ratio in urban areas varies from 985 in Kerala to 848 in Uttarakhand.

None of the states had the sex ratio at birth crossing 1,000-mark since 2005-07. Only rural Chhattisgarh had once crossed the mark to touch 1001 in 2009-11.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 16, 2016)

1.5 cr litre illegal liquor seized in 2015

Close to 1.5 crore litre of illegal liquor was seized across the country in 2015, down from 2.83 crore litre seized the year before.

Of the 1.48 crore litre liquor seized last year in 1.96 lakh cases, according to ‘Crime in India 2015’ report, 88.20 lakh litre is desi liquor while 51.53 lakh litre and factory made illegal liquor.

The last year’s figure showed a reversal in trend as in 2014, law enforces had seized more factory made liquor than desi alcohol. While 1.15 crore litre factory made liquor was seized two years ago, the desi alcohol accounted for 91.17 lakh litre.

In 2015, Uttar Pradesh has topped the list of cases and seizure — 44.12 lakh litre liquor seized in 51,454 cases.

Rajasthan came second with 27.02 lakh litre seized in 14,617 cases followed by West Bengal where 23.25 lakh litre was seized in 6,049 cases.

Other states high seizure was Odisha and Haryana. In Odisha, 16.82 lakh litre liquor were seized in 14,984 cases while in Haryana, it was 10.75 lakh litre in 14,718 cases.

Among the south Indian states, the highest seizure was in Karnataka where 2.71 lakh litre liquor was seized in 3,029 cases.

Telangana came second with 49,311 litre liquor seized in 4,770 cases followed by Andhra Pradesh 46,327.11 litre in 1,988 cases. Kerala and Tamil Nadu reported no such cases.

The data prepared by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also showed that there were 30,155 cases registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotrophic Substances (NDPS) Act in which 10.69 lakh kg contrabands were seized as against 17.23 lakh kg drugs in 46,923 cases.

According to the report, 30.89 lakh kg ganja and 15.10 lakh kg opium were among the illegal contrabands seized during 2015.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 14)

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