India, China troops disengage at LAC friction point in Ladakh
Pullback begins from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area
India and China on Thursday announced that their Armies have begun to disengage from Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area of eastern Ladakh, marking a step forward towards ending the stand-off ongoing since May 2020.
The move comes ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan next week, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to participate. However, neither side has, so far, confirmed if the two leaders would hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit. The leaders have not spoken to each other since a November 2019 meeting during the BRICS Summit in Brasilia and the beginning of the stand-off in April 2020.
“On September 08, 2022, according to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way, which is conducive to the peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” the two sides said in a joint statement issued on Thursday. The consensus was reached at the Corps Commander level and the ground commanders on both sides had worked out the modalities which were now being implemented, a defence official said.
The disengagement began on Thursday morning and was under way, the official said, adding that further details on the modalities were being awaited.
The 16th round of talks was held on July 17 at the Chushul border personnel meeting point on the Indian side.
As per the understanding reached earlier on disengagement, a buffer zone is to be created at the friction points once troops are withdrawn by both sides and new patrolling norms are to be worked out after complete disengagement and de-escalation.
16 round of talks
Since the stand-off began in May 2020, the two sides have so far held 16 rounds of talks, with disengagement undertaken from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, and from PP-17 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in August, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash. The friction points that remain now are Demchok and Depsang, which China has constantly refused to accept, maintaining that they are not a part of the current stand-off.
India will continue to press for complete disengagement and de-escalation from all the friction areas and the Corps Commander-level talks would continue, officials stated.
Earlier, both sides had undertaken partial disengagement from PP15 and 17A in July 2020 after disengagement from PP14 in Galwan, but the process was stalled after the aggressive actions on the south Bank of Pangong Tso in August 2020.
Rajpath, a symbol of slavery, erased: PM
Modi inaugurates Kartavya Path
Rajpath, which was a “symbol of slavery”, has been erased forever, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday while inaugurating the redeveloped two-kilometre stretch from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan that was renamed Kartavya Path. Mr. Modi also unveiled a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose under the canopy at India Gate that during British rule had a statue of King George V.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Modi said: “Today, we are filling the picture of tomorrow with new colours, leaving behind the past. Today, this new aura is visible everywhere, it is the aura of confidence of new India. Kingsway, that is, Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever. Today, a new history has been created in the form of ‘Kartavya Path’. I congratulate all the countrymen for their freedom from yet another identity of slavery, in this Amrit Kaal of Independence.”
The iconic stretch had been closed to the public since January 2021 for redevelopment works as part of the larger Central Vista revamp. The ₹477-crore project is the first of the Central Vista works to be completed and opened to the public.
Speaking about the 28-foot granite statue of Bose, Mr. Modi said: “At the time of slavery, there was a statue of the representative of the British Raj. Today, the country has also brought to life a modern, strong India by establishing the statue of Netaji at the same place.”
Mr. Modi said “Subhas babu” was proud of India’s heritage, while wanting to make India modern. He said if India had followed his path after Independence, the country would have been at great heights today. “But unfortunately, this great hero of ours was forgotten after Independence. His ideas, even the symbols associated with them, were ignored,” he said.
“Today when the Rajpath ceases to exist and has become a Kartavya Path; today when the statue of Netaji has replaced the mark of the statue of George V, then this is not the first example of the abandonment of slavery mentality. This is neither the beginning nor the end. It is a continuous journey of determination till the goal of freedom of mind and spirit is achieved,” Mr. Modi said.
‘Faustian bargain’ versus principles is the toss-up
Politicians in India need to ask themselves whether ethics are more important than ‘gain now, damnation forever’
In an opinion article (“‘Serial killer’ remark makes it clear Kejriwal will bait Modi”) published on August 27, 2022 on the site of a leading television channel in India, the Editor of Satya Hindi wrote about the campaign by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. The writer appreciated the many aspects of Mr. Kejriwal’s politics, for example, his ability to coin slogans such as ‘serial killer’, his accessible language that was jargon free, his tactic of ridiculing the Prime Minister’s exaggerated claims so that he could get media attention, and his positioning AAP as the primary challenger to the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mr. Kejriwal offered the Delhi model of education and health as the alternative to the failed Gujarat model. The writer of the article, however, ended this appreciation on a sharply critical note.
An unacceptable silence
For the writer of the article, Mr. Kejriwal’s silence, on the release recently of 11 men convicted for murder and rape during the Gujarat riots, was unacceptable. These men had killed Bilkis Bano’s three-year-old child. And Ms. Bano was gang-raped. In their orgy of evil, they murdered several others. The accounts of what happened are stomach churning. The new hatred that roves the land, spawned by a politics of othering, was on gruesome display. It is fortunate that the courts sentenced the guilty to life imprisonment, but the Gujarat government, using a law that permits remission, released them early from jail by arguing that they had served their time. When the 11 men emerged from the penitentiary they were greeted with garlands and ladoos. On seeing these pictures of their release and the celebrations, one wondered, in despair, how much more perversity our nation can endure. What sort of Machiavellian mind would consider the core moral issues of their crimes to be irrelevant? How about even just plain decency? Since elections are around the corner, and constituencies are to be placated, it seems that the calculus of power is alone important. That is the signal from the BJP government in Gujarat.
Despite the outrage among decent citizens, Mr. Kejriwal, however, remained silent. This, for the opinion article writer (mentioned earlier), was unacceptable.
As I was adding my own endorsement to his condemnation, I recalled a scholarly study on U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt by the eminent political scientist Ira Katznelson of Columbia University. In his magisterial work, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, Professor Katznelson credits Roosevelt with fashioning the new state in the U.S. with his comprehensive package of ‘New Deal’ policies. These pulled America out of the recession, created a new body of entitlements, and set the legal framework for an empowered capitalist state. Further, Roosevelt was the President who took America into the Second World War.
To achieve these gains, Roosevelt had to make tough compromises particularly with the members of Congress from the 13 southern erstwhile slave-owning States whose votes were necessary to pass the relevant legislation. For example, their support for the bill regarding the army draft helped its passage by 203 to 202 votes; 123 votes, out of 131, were from the southern block. To get their backing for the ‘New Deal’, Roosevelt had to overlook their overt racism. He refused to intervene when civil rights activists tried to make lynching a federal offence. He overlooked the segregation housing policy of the Tennessee Valley Authority. There were many such unpleasant compromises with this racist block that Roosevelt made which, although distasteful, he felt necessary for the greater benefits of a New America. Compromise with evil today was necessary for a greater good tomorrow.
Was Mr. Kejriwal’s silence similar to Roosevelt’s compromise? It appears so since his policies of transforming public education and health in Delhi and Punjab, and hopefully later in Gujarat, require him, he thinks, to play a soft Hindutva card. The vote must not be fractured. Since his powerful opponent reaps the benefits of hard Hindutva, Mr. Kejriwal thinks, soft Hindutva, along with good governance, will give him a winning political formula.
Prof. Katznelson called Roosevelt’s compromises with the southern racists a ‘Faustian bargain’. Is Mr. Kejriwal too making such a bargain when he chose not to condemn the release of the 11 men who were convicted for serious crimes? Perhaps deposed Myanmarese leader Aung San Suu Kyi also made a Faustian bargain when she made a deal with the Myanmarese Generals to come to power despite the atrocities by the army against the Rohingya. For her deal, and her silence on the atrocities, she was globally condemned with some even asking for the Nobel Peace Prize that was conferred on her in 1991 to to be taken back. Was Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s deal with the BJP a Faustian bargain which has now come unstuck as he has joined hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal? Has Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik made a Faustian bargain with the BJP? Did the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi enter into a Faustian bargain with the Government that resulted in his nomination to the Rajya Sabha? Do Attorney Generals make Faustian bargains when they deviate, and remain silent, from their defined role of advising the Government on the constitutionality of its policies and actions, as did William Barr who was United States Attorney General in the Donald Trump government?
So, what is a ‘Faustian bargain’? Its classical definition refers to a pact where someone trades something of supreme moral and spiritual value to them, a core principle which defines their essential being, in return for power, knowledge, or wealth. The idea comes from the German legend of Johann Georg Faust who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. This was for a fixed period. It is a tale that has inspired great literature from Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus to Goethe’s drama Faust. In this bargain, Faust’s soul gets reclaimed by the devil for eternity when the contract expires. This is a hard bargain. Gain now. Damnation forever. In modern terms, this means a temporary benefit gained for the suspension, or suppression, of one’s conscience. The guilt of the compromise, however, does not go away.
While the definition speaks in general terms, the question we must consider is whether it applies only to the big leaders, such as Roosevelt. Or does it even apply to senior bureaucrats and heads of institutions? I believe all of us make ‘Faustian bargains’. This raises the allied question: can the bargain, however distasteful and unethical it may be, be justified by better outcomes measured in utilitarian terms. Roosevelt’s bargain produced the New Deal. Mr. Kejriwal may produce a better government in Gujarat. Aung San Suu Kyi’s produced a democratic government in Myanmar. Do all politicians have to make Faustian bargains, assuming they are committed to the public interest that the bargain is supposed to serve?
In contrast to the Faustian bargain, some politicians prefer not to make compromises believing that it is better to take public positions that are consistent with one’s values rather than adopt a utilitarian calculus of compromise with evil for a future good. Gandhiji entered into no Faustian bargain. Nor did Nelson Mandela or Jawaharlal Nehru or Rabindranath Tagore. Babasaheb Ambedkar resigned when he felt Nehru had undermined his position as the Law Minister on the Hindu Code Bill which he wanted to be discussed. His resignation speech is an artistic statement of the principled position.
In politics, therefore, which is the way to go? The Faustian bargain or the principled position?
Peter Ronald deSouza is the D.D. Kosambi Visiting Professor at Goa University. He has recently co-edited the book, ‘Companion to Indian Democracy: Resilience, Fragility, Ambivalence’.
The views expressed are personal
Should the mother tongue or English be the medium of instruction?
English should be taught effectively not as the medium, but as a second language
Over the years, there has been a raging debate over the need for children to have their mother tongue as the medium of instruction in schools. While educationists have emphasised the importance of learning in the mother tongue to enhance a child’s learning and overcome glaring inequities, there has been an equally steady demand for English-medium schools in several States. In a discussion moderated by S. Poorvaja, V. Vasanthi Devi and Anita Rampal explain why and how the language policy can be reoriented. Edited excerpts:
The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 says the home language, mother tongue, local language, or regional language wherever possible should be the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8. What are your thoughts on this?
Vasanthi Devi: The only component of the NEP I approve of is this meek suggestion that the mother tongue of the child should be the medium of learning. I call it meek because there seems to be no will to enforce it. This is in the context of the NEP’s overall philosophy of the privatisation of education and marketisation with no regulatory control to the state. I think there is an almost-complete consensus among educationists, linguistic experts and psychologists that the mother tongue, or the language of the region where the child lives, is the only appropriate language of learning for the child. A child can be taught any number of languages, particularly later in life, but the medium of learning should be the mother tongue. A number of classrooms today are stalked by the curse of incomprehension. There are a growing number of schools, mostly private, that teach in English. Government schools too in States like Tamil Nadu, unable to bear the pressure from parents and to stop students from migrating to private schools, are switching to English medium.
Anita Rampal: I have been saying for a long time that we don’t have a language policy. We take ad hoc decisions. The three-language formula also doesn’t look too much at the pedagogical aspects. It’s important to have a well understood, pedagogically considered language policy.
I also find the NEP problematic and cannot endorse most of its thrust. But I want to specify that the regional language itself can be problematic. The mother tongue, home language or the first language educationally means the language which the child is using to connect to the world, to people, to nature, to the environment, and to make sense of everything that’s going on. This is the language which helps the child to build, grow and develop in every way. Children may learn to speak if they are immersed in a certain environment, or they are communicating with friends. But reading and writing are different from learning to speak, understand, listen, or think in, and the first language they learn to read and write in is critical. These aspects of child development are important to understand pedagogically.
If we have to talk of learning to read and write, the first language should be the language of the home, the language in which the child is communicating and interacting with the world around her. A lot of research across the world indicates this. As Prof. Vasanthi said, it’s the language of learning, not the medium of instruction. We don’t want any classroom to be based on instruction, which is a very didactic, authoritative term; it should instead be interactive, and a transaction.
In many places in our country, there are bilingual and multilingual classrooms. In Jharkhand, the state might say Hindi is the language, but 50%-60% of children don’t speak the language. We must look at the first language or the languages which children bring to the classroom, their first languages, and that is how we design, develop an interaction. The pedagogy is very different for the first language as compared to the second language. Our system, however, treats language as a subject. This is a tragedy. We have to understand that teachers will also use different pedagogies when they are dealing with a second language or a third language, when we come to English. But this is often a political decision. And all our States are taking these decisions, violating what should be the right of a child.
Prof. Vasanthi, you mentioned Tamil Nadu specifically and the switch that is happening to English-medium schools. Could you elaborate on this?
VD: I will talk about not only Tamil Nadu, but English becoming the medium of learning all over the country. Tamil Nadu was one of the earliest States to start English-medium learning in a very big way. English-medium education is a profound tragedy in Indian education today. Millions are languishing because of their inability to learn in English — not English as a language but as a medium through which they acquire any knowledge of any subject. English is their dream and their despair. And these are children who belong to the vast majority of the Indian population except those at the very top of the class and caste social pyramid. It is only for those who are at the top that English has become almost a home language.
Why is this happening? India has constructed an education system that is among the most exclusionary in the world. The impulse behind this is excluding the vast majority from all opportunities except the lowest and the least-paying jobs. Every component of education is crafted for fulfilling this class purpose.
I’m not saying that 80% of the Indian population must be denied access to a global language that will open up opportunities. I’m only opposing English as the medium. But as a second language, English must be taught effectively, and that is the way the entire non-English speaking world is also learning it today. And that is the way, it was taught in India till the 1980s and 1990s.
AR: There are political forces, especially Dalit groups, who insist that English has been the language of liberation for them. They look at it like that because of the denial and the deprivation of Dalits in the education system, and that’s important to acknowledge. The pedagogical aspect of a child learning a second language is much better if the proficiency and confidence in the first language is established in the first four-five years. The first language is the language that you speak and think in, and if you learn to read and write and understand the world through that language, that is what gives you the proficiency and confidence to be able to read and write a second language which can be the state language, and a third language which should be English. Our focus should be on children’s learning. But we need a lot of public opinion to be shaped and negotiated with.
VD: Public opinion is important. If you ask a poor mother from a distant village, she will want English as the medium. How did this opinion build up? This is the clue to why there is such a craze for English as the medium of learning among those who can never succeed in English as the medium. This is a reason why the Tamil Nadu government has introduced English as the medium of learning in many government schools. In our society, whatever has benefited the upper class and castes is taken as the path through which they also advance.
AR: In Kerala, they acknowledged that the classicised Malayalam that was being used in classrooms was not every child’s Malayalam, and the language in northern Kerala is different from that of the south. So, they changed the language curriculum, making it more inclusive for all children. This happened with Hindi when we were working in Madhya Pradesh too. It was a Sanskritised Hindi. What happens with English is also what happens with a given State language where it sometimes excludes a large majority of children. This happens in any language we use because of how it comes off the upper class and castes.
Prof. Rampal, in what way can we create an enabling environment in classrooms where students come from diverse backgrounds?
AR: We don’t use the word dialects, they are all languages for us, because there is a positioning and a politics of language. Firstly, multilingualism gives equal status to all languages and there’s enough work, history and research on this. Second, children come from different backgrounds, and in some cases, they are first-generation learners with not much support at home. The multilingual approach thus, is much more flexible, closer to the child, and inclusive. It is democratic, and it accepts that the teacher is not coming from a place of authority and is only correcting spellings and pronunciations. In fact, when we look at children learning English in other countries, their spelling is never corrected, they are initially encouraged to intuitively think out their own spellings. The teachers say to the children there is something strange about our language. They put the onus on the language, not on the child. This way, the child is told that it is not something that has been imposed on you. There are norms, and we don’t have to go about it in a structuralist way. We don’t insist on grammar coming first, and expression later, and these are the ways and pedagogies which can be used in our classes.
What do you think about how learning outcomes are measured in India?
AR: The words ‘learning outcomes’ are a denial of children’s rights, because the NEP too says that it will not focus on inputs and only on outcomes. That is not an inclusive way of looking at learning because you’re measuring only what the child is giving you and not how the child has learned or what kind of environment the child was provided to learn in. There are better ways in which you’re not forcing them into standardised methods of assessing, but you’re encouraging them to construct their thinking and express themselves.
When students who study their mother tongue come to college, how do you see their ability to learn other languages and their cognitive abilities?
AR: When a student, for instance, learns in Hindi and then transitions into English, the way they express themselves is different from a child who may be from an elite English-medium school. In class 7, children who had studied their mother tongue Hindi and had just started learning English for the last two years wrote much better English and had very good Hindi too. When we say good, it is that their ideas were rich, nuanced and original. When students from Hindi medium schools come to the University, it is our responsibility to get them good material so that they don’t bank on terrible coaching guides. When they had gained confidence, I observed that they wrote beautifully, with much better observations and analyses than even some of my English-medium students who had studied only in English right from the beginning. Even at the university level, we can see the difference in their thoughts and expressions. Hindi medium students must be given special support and communication sessions where they can gain confidence in English.
VD: The transition for students who have come into English-medium institutions after high school can be done well if English is taught as a second language effectively, maybe from class 6. Teaching a language as a second language is different from teaching in that language as a medium. So, our teachers will have to go through a very different process of teacher education. A considerable amount of investment will need to be done for this. It is a myth that this transition into English-medium learning in higher education will be hard for students, as it is being done well the world over, and was even done by people of my generation.
This myth must be broken that our education system is class and caste neutral. A powerful political movement will have to take place to make the language of learning a choice that is made democratically.
Nirmala links inflation, State fuel taxes
Finance Minister says States that have not reduced the levies clock higher levels than national average
Emphasising that it was unfair to blame the Centre for higher price levels in some States, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that the States that had not reduced fuel taxes were recording inflation rates higher than the national average, and mooted a Centre-State cooperation mechanism to handle price rise matters.
While the Centre had cut petroleum taxes for consumers recently on two occasions in view of surging global prices, Ms. Sitharaman pointed out that several States had not offered any relief to residents who were suffering because of this.
“Very recently, widely available information in the public domain shows how inflation has varied from State to State. But the fact remains, and I find, coincidentally, and I am being careful here…Coincidentally, inflation being higher than the national-level inflation in States which have not reduced the fuel prices,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
“You might think I am stating the obvious. But it establishes the fact that the movement of foodgrains and food-related items actually have a bearing on the price of these items, which account for a bulk of the Consumer Price Index (CPI),” Ms. Sitharaman said.
While headline inflation has averaged 6.8% since January 2022, 14 States as well as three UTs, including Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), have faced higher than the national inflation, most of them averaging over 7%, as per an analysis of States’ inflation trends by The Hindu.
Consumers in Telangana (8.32%), West Bengal (8.06%) and Sikkim have been the most affected with 8%-plus inflation, followed by Maharashtra and Haryana (7.7%), Madhya Pradesh (7.52%), Assam (7.37%), Uttar Pradesh (7.27%), and Gujarat and J&K, both of which have averaged 7.2%.
“The inflation that prevails in different parts of the country, despite the GST and despite creation of one market and despite removing the toll taxes and freeing movement of goods, vary from State to State,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
“Now if States and their inflation will also have to be attributed to the Government of India, then we will have to have a way in which we work together to handle inflationary matters with Centre and State co-operation,” she said.
Drawing an analogy with the debate over the devolution of taxable revenues where some States argue that they get an unfair share of revenues compared to what they contribute to the economy, she said a similar approach is needed to evaluate States’ handling of inflation. “It cannot be that inflation is handled only by the Centre, and when States don’t take enough steps, that part of India suffers for want of a release from the stress of inflation… there are enough justification to have an understanding of how States manage handling their inflation,” Ms. Sitharaman said.
Naga team continues talks on Constitution
Naga CM, deputy CM in Delhi for discussions with Centre
The Government of India is ready to incorporate the Yehzabo, the Naga Constitution, into the Indian Constitution and has agreed for a civil and cultural flag for the Nagas, a senior government official said on Thursday.
A Naga delegation comprising Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton are in Delhi to hold talks with A.K. Mishra, former Special Director with the Intelligence Bureau.
“The Yehzabo will be incorporated into the Indian Constitution by presenting a Bill in Parliament. As far as flag is concerned, it will only be used for civil and cultural functions, but not in any government function,” the official said.
When contacted, Mr. Patton, who represents the BJP in the 60-member Opposition-less Nagaland Assembly, said that the Naga issue should be resolved before the Assembly election due in March 2023.
“The Centre is clear that there cannot be two Constitutions and two flags in the country. The NSCN-IM is stuck on the demand for a separate flag and constitution,” Mr. Patton said.
The Centre is engaged in discussions with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) and seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to find a solution to the Naga political issue. The Isak-Muivah faction, the key player in the Naga peace talks, has been demanding a separate Constitution and a separate flag for the Nagas.
The NSCN-IM also demands creation of ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim by integrating Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and uniting 1.2 million Nagas.
More than hundred rounds of talks spanning over two decades have taken place so far.
On August 3, 2015, a year after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power, the NSCN(I-M) group signed a framework agreement in the presence of the Prime Minister. Mr. Patton met President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday and explained the progress made in the talks.
“There is no question of integration of Naga-inhabited areas in other States with the existing State of Nagaland. It has been ruled out by GOI,” Mr. Patton said.
“If a final agreement is signed before the election, an interim government may be in place,” he said.
Google plans pilot on ‘gambling’ apps
Special Correspondent NEW DELHI
Google on Thursday said it will conduct a pilot programme to enable distribution of daily fantasy sports (DFS) and rummy apps by local developers to users in India via its application store, Play Store.
Currently, real money online rummy and daily fantasy apps, including Dream 11 and Mobile Premier League, are banned from Google Play Store as they violate the platform’s policy on gambling.
While the gaming industry has welcomed the step, they have termed inclusion on just two game formats as “discriminatory” and “misuse of dominance”.
The company has invited applications for the pilot programme, which is expected to run for a year from September 28.
“We are constantly exploring ways for local developers to build successful businesses and offer delightful experiences on Google Play. Through this pilot programme, we are taking a measured approach that will help us collate learnings and retain an enjoyable and safe experience for our users,” a Google spokesperson said.
Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation, said the move by Google is a progressive step, but it needs to be inclusive.
Echoing similar views, Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder of gaming platform WinZO, said it’s unreasonable to allow only rummy and fantasy games while foreclosing the door for all other skill-based games that cumulatively form a bigger user base of over 500 million users in India.