Honour of Hot Seat Bearer: I.K. Gujral versus P.V. Narsimha Rao

Kaushal Kishore | December 2, 2012

Twelfth Prime Minister of India, Shri I.K. Gujral died last Friday, on 30th November 2012 after multi-organ failure at the age of 92. Just after the death Dr. Manmohan Singh convenes a special meeting of his cabinet to pay tributes to Late Shri Gujral. Dr. Singh expressed his condolences and said, “In his passing, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician. I join the nation in expressing our grief and sorrow at the demise of great son of India.” The cabinet declared seven days mourning to condole the demise of I.K. Gujral. He was cremated with full state honour in Delhi in presence of top leadership including President Pranab Mukharjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Hamid Ansari and many others. The body was consigned to flame at Smriti Sthal located between Jawaharlal Nehru’s memorial ‘Shanti Van’ and Lal Bahadur Shasri’s ‘Vijay Ghat’ on bank of the Yamuna.

Eight years ago, during UPA1 regime, ninth Prime Minister of India, Shri P.V. Narsimha Rao died on 23rd December 2004 after a heart attack at the age of 83. Late Sri Rao was an intellectual and scholar, who started the economic transformation that progressed in successive governments. He. was often referred to as Chanakya for his ability to steer tough economic and political legislation during the minority government. As thus, he was also referred as the ‘Father of Indian Economic Reforms’. Dr. Mannohan Singh was first time employed as Finance Minister by him only to embark on economic reforms. After his death the family members were looking for full state honour and a place by the Yamuna to cremate the dead body. But they got no help from the govt. Finally, his dead body was sent to Hyderabad. There he was cremated with state honour only after the intervention of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Y.S. Rajshekhar Reddy.

Late Shri Inder Kumar Gujral was often called IKey. In 20th century India, Late Shri Rao was the last admirer of Gandhi in the hot seat. Both of them were intellectuals and gentleman politicians. They controlled the top political office of the nation in 1990s. After death Gujral’s relatives found the top leadership on their doorstep. Rao’s relatives asked the top leadership for help that they never got. However, he had headed the Congress Party ruled minority government for the full five years tenure.

Ikey was known for the Gujral Doctrine that advocates for unilateralism in Indo-Pak affairs. Until his death he was the President of South Asian Fraternity (SAF). He had founded the SAF in 1990 with likeminded politicians such as Shri Atal Bihari Bajpayee and Late Shri Krishna Kant. The Gandhian activists Late Shri Ram Murthy and Shri Satya Paul were there to promote fraternal relations among the eight South Asian nations. The Gujral doctrine emerged out of their discussions in the early 1990s. It was not confined to Indo-Pak affairs, rather all eight nations were part of that. Unfortunately, he didn’t get sufficient time to execute the doctrine.

Late Shri Narshimha Rao, often called PV, was a prominent figure of the national politics, before his retirement in late 1990s. He was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in early 1970s. Before he was sworn as the Prime Minister, he had headed the top portfolios of the central government in 1980s and 1990s including Home, Defence and External Affairs. He led an important administration of the ruling Congress govt. It was during his tenure and with his mandate that Dr. Manmohan Singh launched the reforms that implemented the IMF policies to rescue the almost bankrupt nation from economic collapse. However, there were scandals of corruption against Late Shri Rao, he was acquitted by the courts before his death. Late Shri Rao won from Nandyal with a victory of record 500,000 (five lakh) votes that was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. He wrote a novel The Insider after his retirement from politics that resembles his own life.

Late Shri Gujral’s stint in the top political office of the nation was for a brief period of 10 months. Whether you call him an accidental Prime Minister or he was a fortuitous man to be in the hot seat. H.D. Deve Gowda, Gujral’s predecessor lost the vote, and the then Congress president forced him to quit. Consequently, Gujral became the Prime Minister of the rickety United Front coalition, as the fierce succession battle erupted. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu. Prasad Yadav were other leaders expecting the top office during that period.

Late Shri Rao was an active freedom fighter like Late Shri IK Gujral. Later he (Rao) joined Indian National Congress after independence. His tenure as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is still remembered today for the land reforms and strict implementation of land ceiling acts especially in Telangana region. Late Shri Rao remained loyal to Smt. Indira Gandhi in 1969 during Indian National Congress split, and thereafter during the Emergency period. In the 1990s, he has served the nation as the Prime Minister (1991-1996).

In the due course of time both of the leaders died. I have interviewed some of the great experts, who had attended their funerals, and came to realise the reality. Late Shri Gujral was awarded the full state honour. The dead body of Late Shri Rao was deported to Hyderabad for cremation. What made the two former prime ministers’ death different from each other?

On last Saturday, the last rites took place amid prayers and a 21-gun salute. The cremation of Late Shri Gujral was attended by the politicians from government and opposition, many senior bureaucrats, and diplomats from various countries. The dead body draped in tricolour was brought to Smriti Sthal from the 5-Janpath residence of the deceased by military personnel and close family members. The officers from the armed forces carried on their shoulders the mortal coil of Gujral to the funeral ground. The President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi, A.K. Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Prakash Singh Badal, L.K. Advani, and. many others laid wreaths on the body. The last such funeral that was reported big was long back in the history of 1984, when Smt. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. She was the Prime Minister at the time of her death.

After I.K. Gujral’s death in Medanta Hospital of Gurgaon, the Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde informed the parliament during the session. Thereafter a series of political events commenced that declared week long national mourning and full state honour. In 2004, Shri Rao died in AIIMS, the government got informed, but nothing like that happened. The politics on funeral ground is a part of the power game. There are many political events that emerged on the dead bodies. The political events associated with the two funerals give hints into the plans of UPA government. The nation must adopt a fair policy to declare the state honour and national mourning.

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Power Production Process and Public Protest

(Kaushal Kishore) This year in South India, police detained 200 anti-nuclear activists in Tuticorin. They were going to join the villagers, who were neck-deep buried in sand on shore, against the Kudankulam nuclear plant. The state authorities try hard to suppress these public protests. On the other hand, local people bent upon intensifying the agitation. However, the Supreme Court refused to stop loading of fuel into the reactor, the apex court stressed on safety of people as prime concern. The present scenario is critical, and the fight is on peak.

The scientist-turned-saint Swami Sanand (Dr. G.D. Agarwal) was many times detained by police in North India. He is leading a movement for several years against hydropower projects on the Ganga. As a consequence of his consistent satyagraha, central government closed down certain hydropower plants in the Himalayas on Ganga, few years back. Now Shankaracharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati heads his movement. They appeared with thousands of followers on Jantar Mantar in mid June to build pressure. As thus, UPA govt. promised them to act positively within 3 months. But they did nothing… Now the annoyed devotees of the Ganga are ready to launch a nationwide movement.

The energy projects and its oppositions have become very common in every part of India. One of its reasons is that there are few torchbearers like Swami Sanand and Ganga Putra Nigamananda. They are ready to sacrifice in order to enlighten the common people and to save them. As thus, still there are certain public protests. It will continue unless the state actually evolves a people centered sustainable development vision.

Electricity for all, a decade ago, was an ambitious goal, when GoI declared it in 2002. Today, India has the fifth largest energy generation capacity in the world, after US, China, Japan and Russia. The top four countries together consume almost half of the power generated globally. According to 2012 data of Central Electricity Authority, India produces 205.34 GW of electricity annually, and per capita consumption is 778.71 kWh per annum. It is far below the global average consumption of 2600 kWh, and 6200 kWh in European Union. India imports electricity from Bhutan and further expects to import from Nepal. Even though around 300 million (more than US population) Indians have no access to electricity.

The domestic needs and demands of electricity are increasing day-by-day. According to reports of United Nation Development Program (UNDP), the demand for electrical energy in India is growing at a rate of seven to eight percent annually. The economic growth largely depends on energy supply, and its dire state threatens the economic prospects. The country needs sufficient electricity to sustain its rapid economic growth, alleviate poverty, and light millions of powerless homes.

Fossil fuel based plants generate 66% of total energy in India. These plants cause twin crisis—increase of fossil fuel consumption, and rapid environmental destruction. Hydropower contributes 19% of the total production, and rest is combination of renewable and nuclear plants. Certainly, the potential for deriving energy from dams on rivers is great. However, the dams have not had a completely positive impact on environment and river ecology. Therefore, developed countries like US and many others are dismantling dams. US Army Corps of Engineers built more than 210,000 dams since its establishment in 1775. Consequently, hydropower increased to 25% of total electricity supplied in 1920, after removing many dams from rivers and creeks, it reduced to 6.4% in 2008. In the last decades, Americans removed 300 to 1000 dams every year.

The consensus among river ecologists of World Commission on Dams is that dams are the single greatest cause of the decline of river ecosystems. Deforestation takes place concurrently with construction of dams, and a variety of other social and environmental problems are in addition. These problems include water acidity, health problems, displacement of indigenous people from their land, flooding of original waterways with resultant loss of prime land, and silting of dams and drainage areas.

According to International Rivers Network, reservoir based hydropower cannot be considered a clean source of energy. Since reservoirs emit Green House Gases due to rotting of flooded vegetation, soils, aquatic plants and organic matter flowing in from upstream. Emissions of carbon dioxide and methane are particularly high from reservoirs in the lowland tropics, and in some cases it exceeds certain gas-fired power stations. Moreover, the gigantic dams place a huge area on the head of an atom bomb. The destruction caused by huge dams could be as destructive as the damage done by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together.

Atomic energy can be yet another source of power supply. The technical advancement can’t eliminate human errors in nuclear energy plant operation. The history witnessed a century of accidents in nuclear power stations. Two thirds of these mishaps occurred alone in technologically advanced US. Although, nuclear plants constitute less than 1% of energy in India, there were half a dozen accidents in these plants. Last year, the entire world was shaken, when a disaster occurred after a 9.00 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan. This was third mishap in the Fukushima since 1978. Germany, fourth largest producer of nuclear power of the world, permanently closed seven oldest reactors after the Fukushima disaster. They have decided to close down all nuclear power stations by the end of 2022, and proposed to replace them with biomass. People in India are afraid after Fukushima mishap, and they oppose nuclear power stations.

Renewable energy options are better substitutes of electricity. In Indian scenario, it is more efficient and sustainable. Biomass, solar, geothermal and ocean energy are available here in abundance. Today, solar and wind power are growing sources of energy. Many large scale wind farms are connected to electric grids and individual turbines help to generate electricity at isolated locations. India is the fourth largest wind power generator in the world after Germany, US and Spain. Energy experts estimate that 10% of total consumption of energy throughout the world would be supplied by wind power by the year 2020.

Solar energy is generated from the heat and light. It converts sunlight into electricity by concentrating photovoltaic, solar thermal devices and several other technologies. California adopted a million solar roofs law to dramatically increase solar power. Germany, US and Spain are pioneer of renewable energy options. European Photovoltaic Industry Association predicts that solar energy could provide a quarter of global electricity demand by 2040.

The main constraint to both solar and wind power is that they only generate when there is sunlight and the wind blows. The rapid progress in fuel cell technology can be helpful in future. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells can generate electricity in need. There are some other problems. Solar panels absorb sunlight that is necessary for the growth of plant species growing in the surroundings. Similarly windmills are harmful for bird species.

Biomass based power can be an important source of energy in India. Here, ample resources are available to produce biofuel and electricity. The main source of biogas is animal dung and various types of organic and agricultural wastes. The most economic way to produce biofuels is in integrated biorefineries, where biomass can be used to produce fuels, bioproducts and energy. It will reduce the emission of GHG from atmosphere. According to Ontario based India Heritage Research Foundation, biogas based energy is the best option to supply electricity and biofuel in India. The foundation estimates the total production potential to be around 130 billion cubic metres per annum that can fulfill half of the domestic energy needs. It can further replace 327 billion barrels of petroleum per annum.

There is a history of harnessing biomass in India. Ministry of New & Renewable Energy reports the status of certain biogas plants in different regions. But most of them are based on first or second generation technologies. The advancement of biomass technology reached in its fourth generation. Not only the developed countries like Germany and US, but Costarica and Brazil are also greatly benefited by new development in biomass sector. According to German Biogas Association, 20% of Germany’s natural gas needs could be supplied from biogas by 2020. In Sweden 60% of CNG requirements are replaced with biofuel. The biofuel gives 67 km mileage as opposed to 25 km of CNG and 54 km of Ethanol mix. The European Union is working on an ambitious plan to generate 30% of energy from biomass.

Unlike solar and wind power there are no constraints with biomass. The ample cattle wealth and agro farms can supply sufficient raw materials for energy. Moreover, the biomass refineries produce enough of organic fertilizer as a byproduct that can be used for organic farming. The cost of these renewable power options is comparably cheap. Today, the capital cost of these projects range between thirty to fifty million rupees per mega watt. That is many times less than the cost invested in other energy projects. Most of the people, who do not have access to electricity live in remote villages, these small-scale projects can expand electrical grids to such homes. Biomass, windmills and solar photovoltaic can be utilized for electrification in many parts of the nation.

November 2012

(Kaushal Kishore is the author of The Holy Ganga)

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The Kosi: Sorrow of Bihar

The Kosi River is a transboundary river between Nepal and India. This is one of the largest tributaries of the Ganga, which. traverses a distance of 729 kilometres or 452 miles from its source to the confluence with the Ganga. The Kosi flows to the south and west of Kanchenjunga with an average water flow of 2,564 cubic metres per second. The tributaries of the Kosi encircle Mt. Everest from all sides.

The Kosi is fed by the highest. glaciers of the world.
In the Mahabharata, it has been referred to as Kausiki river. The sage Vishwamitra is also known as Kausik, since he was a descendant of sage Kusika and was called Kausika in Rig Veda. He is said to have attained enlightenment on the banks of the Kosi. Therefore the river is called Kausiki. According to the epic, seven rivers join together to form the Saptakosi river which is called the Kosi. The seven streams that form it are Sun Kosi, Tama Kosi or Tamba Kosi, Dudh Kosi, Likhu, Indravati, Arun and Tamore or Tamar.

The Kosi, up to its confluence with the Ganga, drains a total area of 69,300 square kilometres along with its tributaries—30,700 square kilometres in. Nepal, 29,400 square kilometres in Tibet, a part of China and 9,200 square kilometres in India, which includes the Mt. Everest region as well as the eastern one-third of Nepal.

The Sapta Kosi river is an important tributary of Kosi. It is the main water source of the Kosi river, and one of the principal sources of water for the Kosi river basin. It originates in the Tibetan mountains at an altitude of 5,646 metres or 18,523 feet.

The Dudh Kosi, along with its tributaries, joins the Sun Kosi at the village Harkapur in Nepal. The Dudh Kosi, meaning the Milky River, is so called the water. of the river is extremely white, like milk. It originates just east of Gokyo Lakes and flows south to. Namche Bazaar where it meets the Bhote Kosi River. Continuing south, the Dudh Kosi exits. Sagarmatha National Park and passes to the west of Lukla. The Lamding Khola River joins the Dudh Kosi to the southwest of Surkya and continues its southerly course to Harkapur, where it joins the Sun Kosi.

The Arun is another tributary of the Kosi river, which flows through Nepal, Tibet and China. It contributes a huge amount of water to the Ganga. This tributary of the Kosi demarcat es the ancient boundary of Khambuwan and Limbuwan regions. The river is also important in the folklore of Kiranti people of eastern Nepal.

The Sun Kosi further confluences with Arun and Tamar at Triveni after which it is called Sapta Kosi. Further down the Triveni, the river cuts a deep gorge. across the lesser Himalayan range of Mahabharata Lekh in a length of ten kilometres. The. river descends from the hills int o the plains near Chatra at Barah Kshetra in Nepal where it is. known as Kosi. Thereafter flowing for another fifty-eight kilometres, it enters the plains of northern Bihar near Bhimnagar. The Kosi traverses 260 kilometres in Bihar. The main stream of the river flows into the Ganga near Kursela.

There are three major tributaries of the Kosi in addition to its. seven headwaters. Kamla, Baghmati or Kareh and Budhi Gandak are other rivers that merge into the Kosi in India. Certain rivulets also join the Kosi in Nepal and India, and Bhutahi Balan is the chief among its minor tributaries. Budhi Gandak is an important river, which originates from West Champaran near Ramanagar and Bagaha. It passes through East Champaran, Mujaffarpur, Samastipur, Khagaria districts of Bihar. The river finally flows into the Ganga at Manasi near Khagaria.

The Kosi is the lifeline of the Mithila region, which spreads across more than half of Bihar and the adjoining terai belt of. Nepal. It is also one of the most dynamic rivers in Asian region. The river changes its course constantly, and in the last three hundred years has shifted over hundred miles from east to west. The river which used to flow near Purnea in the eighteenth century now flows west of Saharsa. The unstable nature of the river is attributed to the heavy silt which it carries during the monsoon season.

The uncertain propensity of avulsion is similar in many tributaries of the Kosi. The basin of river Kosi is surrounded by the ridges separating it from the Brahmaputra in the north, the Gandak in the west, Mahananda in the east and the Ganga in the south. The Kosi forms large alluvial cones, 180 kilometres long and 150 kilometres wide, which is the largest cone built. by any river in the world. The scientific study of its alluvial cone and its adjoining area decipher the causes responsible for the. lateral shifting. The former confluence of the Kosi with the Mahananda river is reflected by this study.

There are two famous wildlife reserves in the river basin of the Kosi. The Sagarmatha National Park, located in eastern Nepal, containing parts of the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest and the Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve situated on the floodplains of the Sapta. Kosi River in Eastern Nepal. Sagarmatha National park covers an area of 1,148 square kilometres and ranges in elevation from its lowest point of 2,845 metres at Jorsalle to 8,848 metres at the summit of Mount Everest. The upper watershed of the Dudh Kosi river basin system lies in the park. Kosi Tappu Wildlife reserve is a wetland. situated in the flood plains of the Saptakosi river in the eastern terai region of Nepal. It spreads across 175 square kilometres and is one of the outstanding bird reserves in the Indo-Gangetic grasslands.
Various types of plants and animals are found in these parks, including a number of rare species like musk deer, wild yak , snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda, etc. Besides them there are many other animals such as Himalayan thar s, deer, langur and monkeys, hares, mountain foxes, martens, hog deer, spotted deer, wild bo ar, blue bull, rock python and. Himalayan wolves. The presence of these creatures depends on the altitude.

These forests provide habitat to more than 80 fish species, around 441 species of birds, 30 shore birds, 114 water birds, 20 ducks and 2 ibises, etc. The major bird species of the region includes danphe, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. The Gangetic river dolphin, a fresh water dolphin, also known as susu, an endangered species is found in this region. The Kosi region is an extremely importan t place for migratory birds.

The forested area grows various. types of flora and fauna. The birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow in the lower forested zone. Vegetation is found to be dwarf or shrubs above this zone. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosse s. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 metres, in the permanent. snowline in the Himalayas.

The Kosi is known as the sorro w of Bihar, since it causes frequent floods. The milky river has caused widespread human suffering in the past due to flooding and frequent changes I n its course. In order to control floods, the Kosi Barrage has been designed for a peak flood of 27,014 cumecs or 950,000 cusecs. Kosi has an average water flow (discharge) of 1,564 cumecs or 55,000 cusecs. During peak floods, it increases to about eighteen times over. The highest flood recorded in. living memory in the river is reported to be 24,200 cumecs or 850,000 cusecs on 24 August 1954. India stands second in the world after Bangladesh in the number of deaths caused by flood; Bangladesh alone. accounts for one-fifth of total deaths due to flooding globally.

Kaushal Kishore is the author of The Holy Ganga
http://www.rupapublications.com/client/book/THE-HOLY-GANGA.aspx