Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger — Question and answer

June 28, 2015 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

a. Why did Mrs. Packletide want to kill a tiger?

Loona Bimberton, was a lady of lower social stature, was the bête noire of Mrs. Packletide. Ms. Bimberrton had killed a tiger, and managed to get a lot of media attention by publishing her photos with the trophy. So impressed was an Algerian pilot with her feat that he flew her 11 kilometers in his aircraft. Such social adulation received by Ms. Bimberton filled the mind of Mrs. Packletide with jealousy and an intense desire to outdo her rival. Killing a tiger was the least she could do to demonstrate her superiority.

(b) What does it tell you about her?

Mrs. Packletide was a mean, vainglorious woman. She was intolerant of other women doing anything to steal the limelight from her. Jealousy ran in her blood.

(c) What is the tone of the storywriter?

The writer is obviously a person of great wit and humour. Weaving the plot and the characters with subtle combination of imagination, and satire, he has made the story bristle with hilarious undertones.

(d) Do you think she was successful in her mission?

Yes, but only with providential intervention. Mrs. Packletide killed the tiger, had her photograph taken standing beside the dead tiger, and grabbed the publicity she so desperately craved for. But, in reality, she had missed her target. The tiger’s demise came not due to her bullet, but due to its weak heart worn out by dotage.

(e) What do you think the story is all about?

The story, though written for light amusing reading, has an underlying message. It highlights the corrosive influence of jealousy, and frivolous pursuit of social attention.

4. Answer the following questions in your own words:

(a) Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?

For Mrs. Packletide, Bimberton’s rise to fame was unacceptable. This jarring jealousy pushed her to kill a tiger and deflect the social attention back to her.

(b) What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton’s honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday?

Mrs. Packletide was looking for an appropriate occasion to turn the table on her perceived rival, Mrs. Bimberton. After killing a tiger, her desire for belittling Bamberton in public knew no bounds. Inviting her to dinner and then unveiling her trophy before the guests with Mrs. Bamberton watching was a brilliant idea. That would be sweet revenge, Mrs. Packletide thought. So, she decided to host the dinner.

(c) How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?

Mrs. Packletide was no great hunter. To minimize the danger, she asked the villagers to look around for a not so ferocious tiger. Fortunately for her, a weak old tiger was spotted. It was unable to hunt in the wild, and used to stray in to the village and create nuisance by attacking the domestic animals. It was decided to make this animal the prey. A platform was erected for the hunting party to be seated. A goat was procured and tethered to the tree as bait.

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Of Truth by Francis Bacon -Lione by line analysis

June 22, 2015 at 10:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Of Truth  -Line by line meaning

 

WHAT is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

Meaning … Here Francis Bacon refers to Pontius Pilate, who occupied a position of influence in the Emperor Tiberius’s court. For his involvement in the persecution of Jesus Christ, Pilate was not looked upon favourably by Christians. He enjoyed a somewhat sullied reputation. Here Bacon takes Pilate’s name to express how humans, in general, avoid Truth. They find Truth inconvenient and difficult to imbibe.

 Certainly there be that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as in acting.

Meaning .. People do not seek Truth, and enjoy resorting to falsehood and lies. People like ambiguity , and inaccuracy, so that they can couch the harshness of Truth in convenient language.

 And though the sects of philosophers, of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them as was in those of the ancients.

Meaning ….. Bacon goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers, who often lost their way while looking to ascertain what really ‘truth’ was. He laments the fact that some of these independent-minded, free-thinking philosophers proposed that there was nothing real as ‘truth’. But, while trying to prove the contrary, they soon wavered, and came out with conflicting decisions. These types of thinkers have all but ceased to exist. The present day ones lack the rigor and verve of the ancient great minds. They are paler versions of their illustrious predecessors. Nevertheless, they, too, doubt the existence of truth, and tend to drift towards falsehood.

But it is not only the difficulty and labor which men take in finding out of truth, nor again that when it is found it imposeth upon men’s thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself.

Meaning … Undoubtedly, people do make very sincere and strenuous attempts to discover ‘truth’. They succeed, but regrettably, they find the burden and demands of ‘truth’ to be unbearable. Expediently, they abandon the pursuit of ‘truth’, and drift towards ‘lies’ knowingly very well that resorting to ‘lies’ is degrading. The world of ‘lies’ is dark, but people, somehow’ develop a fascination for lies at the expensed of truth.

One of the later school of the Grecians examineth the matter and is at a stand to think what should be in it, that men should love lies, where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage, as with the merchant; but for the lie’s sake.

Meaning …Some Greek philosophers of later periods delved in to this matter. They tried to know why and what attracts people towards ‘lies’. In poetry, some distortion of truth adds to a poem’s literary beauty. So allowance needs to be made to accommodate fantasy and fiction as they enhance the readers’ literary pleasure. Merchants and traders resort to a certain amount of falsehood to entice the customers to buy their merchandize. But, why do common folks resort to lies despite knowing its unsavoury consequences.

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Paragraph by paragraph explanation of Francis Bacon’s essays now available on nominal payment.

Paragraph by paragraph explanation of the following 11 essays of Francis Bacon are now available on nominal payment of Rs.150 (Rupees one hundred and fifty) only.
Titles of the essays
1. Of Studies
2. Of Friendship
3. Of Ambition
4. Of Travel
5. Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self
6. Of Death
7. Of Anger
8. Of Marriage and Single Life
9. Of Truth
10. Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
11. Of Envy
How to make the payment …
Remit the amount to my (Asha Mishra) account number 10008171043 State Bank of India (Hosur Road Branch). IFSC Number … SBIN0010514. After remitting the amount, send a confirmation mail to

broadbase.knowledge@gmail.com
You will receive the PDF file having all the 11 essays maximum within 24hrs.

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ICSE English Literature — India’s Heroes

June 20, 2015 at 2:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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India’s Heroes

The students in Mrs. Baruah’s class swiftly straightened up in their seats as she entered the class room. Excitement was in the air as the Class 8A students knew it was going to be different that day. An eloquence practice was scheduled. All of them had been told to come prepared with their speeches.

Mrs. Baruah repeated the topic for the speech. It was ‘Who would you like to be when you grow up?’ In other words, the students had to choose one person from among the best and brightest Indians whom they adored most, and would like to emulate.

From the number of hands that went up, it became apparent that nearly everyone was eager to speak. Such response gladdened her. She knew the topic had fired the imagination of her students.

She proceeded to explain the scope of the topic a little more. ‘The students could cite an illustrious person, and even certain highly laudable traits and qualities in ordinary men and women’, Mrs. Baruah clarified.

The students hastened to arrange the rough sheets of paper on which they had jotted down the points.

It was Ajit Basu who spoke first. He was a die-hard Tendulkar fan. No doubt, he idolized him. Then spoke Gayatri Chhabra, who wanted to devote her life to social work following the footsteps of her mother. Sanjay Damle spoke of her passion for aviation and his dream of soaring into the sky to fly among the clouds one day.

The entire class listened carefully as one after another of their peers stood up to explain the ideals and persons that had stirred them.

It was Kabeer’s turn. He got up as if he shouldered a big load. He was a bundle of nerves. His face wore that look. Perhaps, he was facing the class for the first time to speak to them in a loud enough voice.

Despite his shortcomings, Kabeer had braced for the challenge by preparing for his speech quite assiduously. The ideas came from deep within his inner self. The speech was a cut above the others. It dealt with not just a single great man or a single virtue, but a collage of them. Many eminent persons, and many astounding good qualities of very ordinary people around him had left a deep impression on his mind.

‘When I grow up, I would like to be like Major Unnikrishnan, the NSG commando who laid down his life fighting in Mumbai in November, 2008,’ said Kabeer in a voice that resonated in the whole class. His words seemed to benumb everyone.

Kabeer proceeded to elaborate the brave Major’s feet. The hero had made up his mind to be a soldier when he was just a eight-year-old lad studying in class 3. Finally, in the appropriate age, he joined the armed forces and received training in counter–terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Then, he joined the NSG in January, 2007. The day he had so eagerly waited all his life arrived. He was deployed to flush out the terrorists from the besieged Taj Hotel in Bombay.

He was locked in a fierce gunfight with the terrorists as soon as he entered the hotel building. One of his commandos got injured, and Major Unnikrisnan had him evacuated. Undaunted by the terrorists virtually controlling the hotel, the brave Major decided to evict them by any means. He took them on frontally. He knew, death lurked at every corner of the building, but he pressed on.

Ordering his colleagues to stay behind,  Major Unnikrishnan decided to surge ahead himself. A fierce gunfight ensued. Major Unnikrishnan was fatally wounded. In an extreme show of defiance, he tried to save the life of his colleague Gajendra Singh, despite being just moments away from his death. At last, Major Unnikrishnan breathed his last – a hero in the line of fire.

Kabeer paused for a while. He had gripped the entire class’s attention. Emotion, grief and admiration for the fallen hero swept through everyone’s heart. It was Kabeer’s one-minute speech that held the entire class spellbound.

Outside the class, life was as usual. Children of junior classes capered around, birds chirped and traffic moved along.

Kabeer moved to his next hero—Vishnu Dattaram Zende, the announcer in the CST platform. It was November 26. Ignoring the terrorists who had by then started their shooting spree, he continued to guide the passengers to safety through the PA system. He did not flee his position, despite the fact that the terrorists would soon target him. He was a sitting duck. Although he knew he would soon be killed, he stayed put to continuously make his announcements warning the passengers of the terror gang. Thousands of commuters escaped death because of Zende’s words of caution. Finally, the terrorists opened fire on him, but luckily, the bullets missed him. Perhaps, God wanted him alive.

Then, Kabeer proceeded to another hero of his –Karmabir Singh Kang, the General Manager of the besieged Taj Hotel. His whole family happened to be in the Hotel at the time the terrorists struck. He paid no heed to their or his safety.

 Instead, he got busy with emergency efforts to save as many of the guests of the Hotel as possible. The whole hotel was aflame as a result of indiscriminate firing by the terrorists. The room in which his family rested was on fire too. He knew fire would soon swallow them, but he concluded saving the guests was more important to him at that moment. Sadly, none from his family survived the fire and suffocated to death in the obnoxious gasses. Not a single member survived.

True to his name, Karmabeer did not run to rescue his family, but did everything possible to save the guests. Karmabeer did not desert his desk even after such a huge tragedy. The gutsy General Manager stayed on his duty to expedite the restoration work of the charred hotel.

Kabeer’s depiction of his heroes had moved a few of his classmates to tears. The stories had hit Swati hard. Kabeer, as the narrator, was also overwhelmed with emotions. He didn’t like to give vent to the grief that had overtaken him. Resolutely, he continued his speech. He averred, “When I grow up, I want to be like Hemant Karkare, the Anti-Terrorism Squad chief who laid down his life while chasing the intruders near Cama Hospital. DIG Ashok Kamte and Vijay Kalaskar were Hemant Karkare’s colleagues who were also felled by enemy bullets.”

Hemant Karkare worked in Austria for eight years as a RAW official. He had distinguished himself as an intelligence officer par excellence.

All the three officers fought terror with all the might and ingenuity at their command. They confronted the terrorists so that we don’t have to confront them. Through their sacrifice, they ensured our security.

Mrs. Baruah was moved to by the poignant portrayal of the martyrs. She struggled to hold back her tears.

Kabeer proceeded to narrate the case of Taufeeq Sheikh – the ‘Chhotu Chaiwala’. He had a tiny tea stall outside the CST terminus. The young lad swung into action on seeing the injured. He made arrangements to have the injured taken to the nearby St. George’s hospital. Through his timely intervention, he saved the lives of those hit by the enemy fire.

Kabeer’s list of heroes was not complete yet. He spoke about Sandra Samuel who saved the life of a 2-year-old toddler Moshe Holzberg. She was the boy’s nanny. The grisly murder of the boy’s parents at Nariman House could not be averted.

Lastly, Kabber came to shower his adulation on the innocuous keepers of the Kabristan—the Muslim burial ground. They were so repelled by the hideous terrorists that they refused to bury them in the burial ground. They thought, the attackers’ barbarism had been too un-Islamic to bear.

Kabeer drew down his speech. He had stirred the whole class with his powerful narration of both important and ordinary people who responded to the call of duty with such dedication. As Kabeer ended, the whole class gave him a standing ovation. Kabeer had touched a raw nerve in all their hearts.

Mrs. Baruah was convinced her pupils would grow up imbibing the values of tolerance, peace, and altruism. They would make their motherland an abode of peace – a beckon to the whole world.

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Mirror by Sylvia Plath — Personification of Mirror

June 16, 2015 at 2:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mirror by Sylvia Plath …

The poem starts with the bold declaration,
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.”

Quite unmistakably, Sylvia Plath perceives the Mirror to be a person with profound wisdom, discerning ability, sympathy, and an astute sense of observation. Like a renowned judge it remains neutral refusing to be swayed by the emotions or feelings of those who come near it. With astounding nonchalance, it reflects (‘swallows’) anything and everything paying no heed to the reaction of the objects – animate or inanimate. A woman slowly decaying with each passing day arouses her interest. The woman despairs at her receding charm, but the Mirror remains unmoved.
We can thus conclude that the author has succeeded to a large measure in her effort to give the Mirror a heart, mind and a soul.

Two Gentlemen from Verona — Question and answer

June 10, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Question – answers from the lesson

Two Gentlemen from Verona ..

Q1 .. What are the qualities of a “gentleman”? Work with your partner and complete the following web-chart by listing the qualities of a gentleman.
Answer … In my view, a gentleman ought to be polite, gracious, un-assuming, courteous towards ladies, old and children, and altruistic. Being chivalrous will add to his stature and likeability. He should remain unruffled when facing minor irritants. [Written in my words]

Q2 .. Based on your discussion above, what do you think the story is about?
Answer .. The story is a powerful portrayal of the characters of two destitute children who confront the misery in their lives with remarkable stoicism, dignity, and fortitude. The way they go through the daily grind of life without ever giving up, or resorting to deceit is inspiring and very touching. The two are also worth emulation by others.

Q3 .. What do you understand by the following statements?

(a) “We do many things, sir,” Nicola answered seriously. He glanced at us hopefully.
Answer .. It means that Nicola and his brother, being utterly poor and unskilled, did whatever they could to eke out a living. From picking berries to shoe polishing to chaperoning tourists coming to the town, the boys did sundry jobs cheerfully. Although the money they earned was small, they begrudged no one. They never stooped to criminality or anything immoral. Their sense of dignity stopped them from seeking undue from anyone.

(b) He coloured deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale.
Answer …The narrator, already feeling sympathetic to the two boys, was clueless as to why they dressed so shabbily despite their small but steady income. Out of curiousity, he asked the two urchins what they did with their earnings. It was a question that seemed to pierce Nicola’s heart. The answer was too private to be given to a stranger. Saving money earned through so much hardship for the treatment of their sick elder sister was a secret Nicola wanted to keep to himself. This is why embarrassment and discomfiture made Nicola look pale and uncomfortable.

(c) He smiled uncomfortably. “Just plans, Sir,” he answered in a low voice.
Answer .. When the narrator persisted to know what the duo planned to do with their savings, Nicola was not quite forthcoming. When asked if they wanted to emigrate to the United States, Nicola coyly replied that the America plan was there, no doubt, but was not going happen soon.

(d) Yet in both these boyish faces there was a seriousness which was far beyond their years.
Answer .. The two boys, Nicola (13) and Jocopo (12), battled their odds with remarkable equanimity and grim determination. The rough and tumble of living in the streets had failed to rob them of their sense of self respect and dignity. They had not quite outlived their childhood innocence, and showed the resilience typical of an adult.

6. (a) Why didn’t Luigi, the driver, approve of the two boys?
Answer …Nicola and Jocopo, in their frayed dirty clothes did not present a healthy sight. They seemed to belong to the ugly dark world of unsavoury elements who had possibly come to fleece the narrator. This fear made the driver to treat the duo scornfully.
6. (b) Why were the narrator and his companion impressed by the two boys?
Answer .. The narrator and his companion’s encounter with the two young boys was as pleasant as it was baffling. The boy’s indomitable spirit to survive in the face of so much adversity was undoubtedly impressive. That they still retained their childhood innocence, and did all the odd jobs so willingly moved the visitors.
6.(c) Why was the author surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoeshine boys?
Answer … Just the day before, the two boys were on the highways selling the berries picked up from the wild. The narrator had bought the fruits from them out of sympathy and curiosity. Now, the same duo was found to be polishing shoes by the wayside. Such a dramatic change in their profession took the narrator by surprise.
6.(d) How were the boys useful to the author?
Answer … The boys willingly did anything and everything for the narrator. Their knowledge of the city enabled them to offer the small services the narrator wanted, like buying the American cigarettes, locating a restaurant, getting the tickets from the theatre etc. They proved to be quite efficient guides too. Rendering these services, the duo made their way to the narrator’s heart.

6. (e) Why were the boys in the deserted square at night? What character traits do they exhibit?
Answer .. The boys sat there under the street light waiting for the last late night bus to come from Padua. They hoped to sell their left-over newspapers to the passengers in the bus. The fact they waited in the desolate dark night to earn a little money underscores their determination, resilience and their spirit of defiance against the hazards of their daily life.

6. (f) The narrator asks the boys, “Must you work so hard? You both look rather tired.”
Answer ..The boys reply, “We are not complaining, Sir.” What do you learn about the boys from their reply?
For the two hapless boys, the travails of their daily life was routine. With rare grit and equanimity, they went about their task. They did not give up, nor did they lament their fate.
Obviously, the two were warriors who had great sense of duty, dignity and rectitude. They could look straight into danger, and yet remain calm.

6. (g) When the narrator asks the boys about their plans, they are evasive. Why don’t they disclose their problems?
Answer … The two boys were battling great odds to earn little amounts of money. They had an air of modesty around them. Treating their sick sister back to health was their first priority, going to America was a distant second. The duo did not like to divulge these so as not to give an impression that they wanted to kindle sympathy for their plight in others minds. Their self-pride told them not to solicit charity. So, they were very reluctant to disclose their intentions.

7. Discuss the following questions and write the answers in your notebook.

(a) Appearances are deceptive. Discuss with reference to the two boys.
Answer … Nothing can be truer than this. The most hideous crooks, rapists, fraudsters, and swindlers on earth dress smartly so as to deceive gullible people with their smart urbane exterior. The revered, pure and godly people seldom wear bespoke dresses, because they don’t need to impress people cosmetically. Gandhi, Jesus Christ and Gautam Buddha did not dress to impress their followers. So, having a beautiful face, white complexion or royal attire does not bestow goodness on people. In the same vein, people who are forced to dress shabbily due to circumstances may turn out to be adorable characters with very pious interiors. The two brothers demonstrated this in ample measure.

(b) Do you think the boys looked after Lucia willingly? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer … Undoubtedly, the two brothers took upon the responsibility of the treatment of their ailing sister themselves. There was no compulsion for them to shoulder this responsibility. But, being conscientious brothers, they decided to save the life of their bed-ridden sister. It was an uphill task, but the duo confronted the challenge heroically.

7. (c) How does the story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ promise hope for society?
Answer … Quite clearly, the story portrays two youngsters whom the society will do well to emulate. They demonstrated how not to be cowed down by adversity. Instead, they confronted their misfortune resiliently. Most interestingly, the two boys did not let their soul to be polluted by temptations of the criminal world. Even they refused to be the object of pity. They never sought charity, nor did they do anything to attract sympathy. Hard work was their weapon that they used with such aplomb to push back sorrow and suffering.
Their lives are a lesson to the entire human society. Staying away from immoral ways, enduring hardship without complaining and maintaining dignity are the values we all can imbibe from the two boys.
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Land Acuisition Bill — A rocky ride ahead

June 9, 2015 at 4:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Land Acquisition Bill.. Why it kicks up so much dust

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Dispossessing a tiller of his piece of land has remained a highly contentious process in all societies, in all ages and in all countries. The farmer braves the elements to till his land and raise crops to feed himself and sale the surplus to buy his necessities. In the process, other sections of the society get fed. Taking away land from the farmer disrupts such a symbiotic relationship. It brings extreme distress to the farmers as they lose their means of livelihood. The sentimental bond of the ‘son of the soil’ with his land is very strong. Losing the land his forefathers tilled is revolting proposition for the humble farmer who resists the authority of the ruling class with all his might.

Farmers in countries around the globe such as Mexico, China, Nigeria, Egypt, Indonesia etc. have fought bitter wars with their governments precisely for the same reason for which the Indian farmers are up in arms against their governments.

In India, the anti-acquisition stir has raged for decades. In the last three or four decades, this single issue has been used by politicians to garner support of the farming class. Depending upon whether they are in government or in the opposition, Indian politicians either sing the praise of or spew venom against the idea of land acquisition. Such parochial thinking has clouded the national debate and needlessly made sections of the farmers belligerent and uncompromising. In the process, land acquisition for larger public interest has got mired in a cobweb of controversies.

Land Acquisition in British India was always an one-sided process. The colonial government, citing government necessities, could acquire any amount of land anywhere without paying any compensation and without having to cite any reasons for doing so. Such draconian power was vested in the government by the 1894 Land Acquisition Act. The farmers seethed against the practice, but could not militate against it. In a colonized, they were too feeble for any protest.

Salient features of the 1894 Land Acquisition Act …
1. It empowered the government to acquire any amount of land anywhere and from any owner.
2. The process was simple and quick for the administration. Only a simple notification was enough.
3. The government did not have to disclose why it was acquiring the land and why so much land was needed. Obviously, there was no need for prior consultation with the land owners to obtain their consent.
4. The government’s action could not be challenged in a court of law.
5. The government could hold on to the land indefinitely without utilizing it for its purported use. It could even sale it off at a later date to anyone it chose, for any undisclosed price. At times, the British officials did this much to the annoyance of the original owners.
6. No compensation was payable legally to the owners whose lands were taken passion of.
In effect, the 1894 Act gave sweeping, arbitrary powers to the government. It was a blatantly draconian and oppressive legislation. Quite curiously, the Act continued to be in vogue even in independent India. When land acquisitions by government and large private companies for infrastructure, development and industrialization became more frequent, public discontent grew. Farmers got organized to agitate against the acquisitions. In many cases, aggrieved land owners approached courts demanding fair compensation and even roll-back of the acquisition process. To add to the confusion, political parties took divergent positions and courts gave incoherent verdicts. What followed was a plethora of court cases, violent agitations, long debates in parliament, delays in project implementation by both government and private parties, and corruption. The situation warranted reforms.

The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 …

Issues relating to the quantity and basis of compensation paid by government to those whose land is acquired almost invariably led to discontent among the landowners, be it farmers or otherwise. There was need for clear and transparent legislation that could ensure fair, quick and adequate compensation to the beneficiaries. The intent of the above Bill was to specify a process by which people could be compensated fairly, justly and quickly. The Bill also had clauses that specified the minimum levels of compensation that governments must pay to the land-losers.  

Sadly, it had no clause to make it obligatory for the government to resettle the people who were going to part with their lands. This created a lot of disappointment. This apart, the steps to be taken for the welfare of the displaced people were mentioned as mere suggestions, and not as binding commitments on the government.

The Bill stipulates that for projects that caused large scale displacement, the government shall conduct a Social Impact Assessment. An Administrator for Rehabilitation and Resettlement was to be appointed. His job would be formulation, execution and monitoring of the rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced persons.

The Bill outlined the minimum benefits for displaced families and the criteria to be adopted for eligibility. Benefits could be through allotment of alternate land, house, award of monetary compensation, imparting skills training and preference for jobs.

The Bill envisaged creation of Ombudsman to address the grievances of the affected people pertaining to the rehabilitation and resettlement process. Civil courts were barred from entertaining any suits related to this matter.

A step forward towards social justice ….

 The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011

The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister for Rural Development on September 7, 2011. As a result of long acrimonious debate it caused and also due to the huge implications of the bill for farmers and land owners, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Rural Development under the Chairpersonship of Ms. Sumitra Mahajan.

 Highlights of the Bill

 The Bill provides for the procedures to be followed for land acquisition as well as rehabilitation and resettlement. It supersedes the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

 1. For the first time, conducting a Social Impact Survey was made mandatory of the land acquisition process.

2. At the very outset, the primary intent of the acquisition had to be spelt out through a notification.

3. The payment of compensation had to be quantified and it had to be disbursed within a certain time limit.

4. All acquisitions had to be followed by rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people.

5. Compensation for the land owners who are dispossessed had to be four times the market value in case of rural areas and double in case of urban areas.

6. In case of acquisition of land for use by private companies or public private partnerships (PPPs), consent of 80 per cent of the displaced people will have to be obtained.

7. Purchase of large pieces of land by private companies will also make it compulsory for the acquirers to provide for rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people.

8. The provisions of this Bill was not meant for acquisitions under 16 existing legislations including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc.

Key Issues and Analysis

1. It is not clear whether Parliament has the authority to impose rehabilitation and resettlement requirements on private purchase of agricultural land.

2. The requirement of a Social Impact Assessment for every acquisition was going to be a long-drawn process leading to inordinate delay in land acquisition and the proposed venture.

3. Projects involving land acquisition and undertaken by private companies or public private partnerships require the consent of 80 per cent of the people affected. However, the PSUs were exempted from this provision.

4. The market value is based on recent reported transactions. This value is doubled in rural areas to arrive at the compensation amount. This method may not lead to an accurate computation of compensation as many land sales do not show the actual value.

5. The government can temporarily acquire land for a maximum period of three years. There is no provision for rehabilitation and resettlement in such cases.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015

 

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister for Rural Development, Mr. Birender Singh on February 24, 2015.

 

The Bill modifies certain stipulations of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).

 

Features of the bill

 

  1. The Bill replaces the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.

 

  1. The LARR Act, 2013 outlines the process to be followed when land is acquired for a public purpose.

 

  1. The LARR Act, 2013 exempted 13 laws (such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989) from its purview. However, the LARR Act,2013 required that the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws be brought in agreement with the LARR Act, 2013.

 

  1. It was to be done through a notification within a year of its enactment. (By January 1, 2015). The Bill brings the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws in line with the LARR Act, 2013.

 

  1. The Bill creates five special categories of land use: (i) Defence, (ii) Rural Infrastructure, (iii) Affordable Housing (iv) Industrial Corridors, and (v) infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the government owns the land.

 

  1. The LARR Act, 2013 requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained for private projects. For PPP projects, consent of 70% of land owners is to be obtained. The Bill exempts the five categories mentioned above from this provision of the Act.

 

  1. In addition, the Bill empowers the government to exempt projects in these five categories from the following provisions, through a notification:

(i) The LARR Act, 2013 requires that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired.

(ii) The LARR Act, 2013 imposes certain restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land and other agricultural land. For example, irrigated multi-cropped land cannot be acquired beyond the limit specified by the appropriate government.

 

  1. Return of unutilized land: The LARR Act, 2013 required land acquired under it which remained unutilized for five years, to be returned to the original owners or the land bank.

The Bill states that the period after which unutilized land will need to be returned will be: (i) five years, or (ii) any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.

 

  1. The LARR Act 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the 1894 Act.

However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of the LARR Act, 2013, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the LARR Act, 2013 will apply.

  1. The Bill states that in calculating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up: (i) due to a stay order of a court, or (ii) a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or (iii) any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.

  2. The LARR Act,2013 excluded the acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from its purview. The Bill removes this restriction.

  3. While the LARR Act, 2013was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the Bill changes this to acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organization, or other entity under any other law.

  1. The LARR Act, 2013 stated that if an offence is committed by the government, the head of the department would be deemed guilty unless he could show that the offense was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

The Bill replaces this provision and states that if an offense is committed by a government official, he cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the government. [Parts of this post are taken from http://www.prsindia.org/pages/land-acquisition-debate-139/

————————To be continued————-

ICSE English — The Tiger in the Tunnel by Ruskin Bond

June 7, 2015 at 6:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Tiger in the Tunnel

Thembu’s father, Baldeo, was a small-time employee in the railways. His job demanded working at night. No matter how cold or wet the night was, he had to brave the elements to go out of his hut for duty. His humble dwelling was beside a jungle.

On one occasion, Thembu was awake in his bed when his father got ready to step out. It was a dark, quiet and forbidding night. The stillness was broken by the shrill cry of the cicadas. One could even hear the faint tik tak sounds of the woodpeckers, digging into barks of trees with their beaks. A mild breeze blew. The grunt of a wild boar digging out its delicious roots punctuated the pervasive silence of the jungle.

Baldeo worked as a watchman in the railways. He lay awake as he had to go out on his night duty. He removed the thick shawl from his body rather reluctantly. The cold was biting. The midnight’s cold was unforgiving. The station he was attached to was very rudimentary set-up where trains stopped only occasionally. There was a long tunnel ahead, and the trains needed to be flagged in due to safety considerations. This was the reason why the trains slowed down briefly as they went past the station to enter the tunnel.

On Baldeo’s shoulders lay the responsibility of inspecting the tunnel for any possible obstruction of the track. He would signal the trains in only if there was no hindrance to obstruct the train. Baldeo used to stand guard at the tunnel entrance and manually wave the train in by his hand-crafted signal. Despite, the basic nature of this arrangement, Baldeo’s contribution to the safe passage of the train was critical.

On that fateful night, the young boy Thembu wanted to accompany his father. His curiousity got the better of his comfort in the warm bed. But, Baldeo didn’t want his son to be exposed to that night’s cold. Thembu was asked not to venture out.

Thembu was a 12-year-old then. He had to extend a helping hand to his mother and young sister in household chores and in the work in the family farm. This robbed him of the opportunity to sleep in the station beside his father, Baldeo. From the station to their hut that stood bordering the tribal village, it was a three mile trek. Baldeo’s salary from the railways, although meager, came in handy to meet his family’s needs. The paltry income from their paddy farm fell well short of their needs. Baldeo, had thus managed to avoid grinding poverty. His love for the railways and the Khalasi job he did was, therefore, understandable.

Baldeo, with sleep weighing down his eye lids, struggled to rise. It took him some effort to find the match box he wanted to light the lamp. Undeterred by the darkness and the cold, he stepped out of his hut and set off for the station treading the same solitary jungle path which he used every night on his way to duty. Thembu had fallen asleep again in the meanwhile.

Baldeo was not sure if the lamp in the signal post was alight. Wrapping the shawl around his body, he trudged forward along the track in the chill. It was not a pleasant job, but he did it each night dutifully. But, he loved to return to the warmth of his hut.

The hills on either towered over the rail track. An uncanny feeling of fear seemed to grip the desolate area. The wild animals were there around the place. Baldeo had to be very alert to their presence. He had heard many stories about the man-eaters that stalked the tunnel, but he consciously brushed these tales as nothing but figments of imagination. Till that night, he had not encountered any wild animal.

Some panthers, obviously, were there. One such cat was killed by the villagers. Their spears pierced its body to death. Panthers had stayed clear of Baldeo’s hut so far.

Baldeo, undaunted by the looming danger of wild animals in the area, walked forward confidently. His tribal blood had trained him to defy the fears. He carried a small axe, which he could use to deadly effect when the need rose. He used it to chop off trees, and as a bulwark against the jungle animals’ possible attack.

On one occasion, he had killed a boar with the same axe. His family feasted on its meat for three days. The axe was a precious family possession. It had belonged to his father who had wrought its steel blade quite deftly over charcoal fire. The blade’s shine had remained intact over the years. In the hand of Baldeo, it was a formidable weapon against any attack. On occasions, railway officials had offered good money to buy the weapon, but Baldeo was too proud of it to part with it.

Baldeo, finally, reached the tunnel. It was a frightening sight as the dark interior seemed to awe any intruder.

Baldeo’s concern was the lamp. It had stopped burning. Had it run dry? He wanted to ascertain if there was enough oil left in it. If not, he would have to rush home to fetch some. The train was due soon. He lowered the lamp using its chain.

As he ran his hand over his body to get hold of the match box, he could hear the shriek of a deer from afar. He heard a big thud from nearby undergrowth. It made Baldeo’s hairs stand on their roots. Luckily for him, there was some oil left in the lamp. That saved him the trouble of going back to his hut. He lit the lamp, put it in position, and looked around apprehensively.

Not losing any more time, he went on his inspection tour of the tunnel’s passageway. The lamp on his hand swung as he walked briskly. The shadows danced to and fro on the wall. The tunnel was clear. Baldeo paced back to the entrance and waited for the train’s approach.
The train was late. Baldeo wrapped himself up tightly to kkeep warm and sat down. Soon, he dozed off, forgetting the unusual sounds he had heard some time earlier.

In the hut, the rumbling sound of the train set the environment alive. Thembu woke up from his sleep, and thinking that he was beside his father, blurted out, ‘Father, it is time to light the lamp.’ Soon, he discovered that his father had left much earlier leaving him on the warm bed of the hut. He lay wide awake hoping to see his father back from duty after the train departed.

Baldeo was woken up hearing the frightening grunt of a jungle cat very close to him. Bracing up for the danger, Baldeo grabbed his axe firmly, and wanted to figure out the location from which the sound came. An ominous silence lasted for a while. Was it the lull before a storm?
A few pebbles came cascading down the slope preceded by a thump. The tiger had arrived at Ground Zero!

Baldeo knew for certain it was a tiger, but he did not know the direction in which it was moving. ‘Was the tiger heading towards his hut, where his son Thembu was asleep?’ wondered Baldeo.

Just about a minute after, the majestic animal unveiled itself within yards of where Baldeo stood. I t was coming straight at him. The tiger’s shone brightly with their piercing gaze. Baldeo’s sense told him the futility of fleeing. Outpacing a tiger on the prowl is humanly impossible, he reasoned. With the signal post at his back, Baldeo stood still frozen fear as the tiger approached.
The tiger was a man-eater. He knew how feeble humans were against its might. Expecting no great fight-back from his prey, the tiger assumed a frightening aggressive posture with its right paw forward.

Baldeo moved swiftly to evade the paw and swung back at his attacker with his axe. The axe landed on the tiger’s shoulder. The enraged tiger charged against Baldeo with full fury. Baldeo again hit back at it with his axe. The axe inflicted a deep cut on the tiger’s leg, almost chopping it off. Unfortunately, the axe remained stuck in the tiger’s body leaving Baldeo without his only weapon of defence. Baldeo became utterly vulnerable now.

The tiger, seething in pain, pounced upon Baldeo with savage vengeance, and tore his body apart in no time. For Baldeo, the end came swiftly. He felt an excruciating pain on his back before falling silent for good. He had perished.

The tiger retreated to a distance and licked its limb. The pain of the cut made him to grunt intermittently. The tiger was also shaken by the encounter. It could not hear the sound of the approaching train. The Overland Mail came in majestically with its furnace aglow and smoke and sparks shrouding the engine as it struggled to climb up the incline.
Just before entering the tunnel, the driver blew the steam whistle, as was customary. The intent was to ward off obstructions from the track. The train kicked up a big noise inside the narrow tunnel. After a while, it emerged triumphantly at the other end. The din in the forest died down fast. Everything fell silent as if nothing had happened.

As a routine practice, the driver halted the train to re-charge water into the engine. He got down for unwinding a bit, and inspecting the headlamp. But, what he saw sent a shiver down his spine. He had never see anything like this before.

The tiger’s mangled body was stuck just above the cowcatcher of the engine. Obviously, the tiger had been mauled by the steel giant.
People soon gathered around the place. They gaped at the carcass, and made their own judgments in shock and wonder.

Thembu had arrived on the spot where the deadly encounter with the tiger had ended his father’s life. The poor boy sobbed as he looked on with his tear-filled eyes at what remained of his dead father. He sat there, undeterred by the approaching darkness. He wanted to guard his father’s dead body from the jungle animals who relished human flesh. The relief watchman came in due course.

For two complete days a pall of gloom hung over Thembu, his sister and the mother. The grief almost numbed them into silence.

But, life had to go on, regardless of the misfortune. On Thembu’s shoulder fell the responsibility of earning a living. Just three nights after the ghastly incident involving his father, Thembu was there at the tunnel doing exactly what his dead father did. It was a legacy he was proud of.

To cut the boredom, Thembu sang silently to himself as he waited for the incoming train. His father had fought valiantly winning everyone’s acclaim. The tiger’s death was sweet revenge for Thembu’s family. Besides, he had inherited the legendary axe that had inflicted such a fatal cut on the tiger. He felt proud.
——————–END———————-

————————–To be continued—————–

ICSE English poem — A Palsam of Life by Longfellow

June 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A Psalm of Life

by H. W. Longfellow

Introduction .. This is a poem that radiates hope, optimism, inspiration and a call to action. In the same vein, it seeks to dispel the sense of resignation, despair, indolence, and pessimism.

First stanzaTell me not ……………… not where they seem.

Meaning .. It is a call to shake off desultory thoughts that push some human beings to despair and inaction. The author calls upon those under the spell of such morbid perception of life to see the brighter side of life and not let their souls rot in indolence. In a lugubrious tone, the author urges these disaffected people never to see life as a barren landscape where not a blade of grass grows. Human soul’s power of creativity, and its ability to drive a person to loftier heights of existence is lost on these people. They see nothing substantive in things around them.

2nd stanzaLife is real! ……………………..spoken of the soul.

Meaning … The author implores the purposeless, ‘defeated’ people to rediscover life, and not treat it as fecund just because it ends in grave. Human soul defies destruction. It has limitless abilities. Ignoring the creative potential of soul will be foolish and futile. So, the author argues, defeatist thinking should cede ground to vibrant and exuberant living.

Stanza 3 .. Not enjoyment, not for sorrow ………………. Find us farther than today

Meaning ….. Life’s journey on earth must not be gauged by the misery and mirth one endures. The travails and triumphs can not dictate the course of life. Instead, the endeavour must be to reach higher and higher levels of achievement in one’s field of activity. The progress might be incremental, but it must be relentless. Pursuit of perfection should be the motto of life despite the sacrifices it demands from an individual.

Stanza 4Art is long and Time is fleeting ……………. Marches to the grave

Meaning … The journey from cradle to grave is unstoppable. The scope to accomplish something bigger, better and nobler is enormous. However, time marches on. There is no scope for a pause for the perfectionist. With each moment passing, one inexorably inches towards one’s grave. The heart has to stop beating to mark a mortal’s departure from this world. So, the author implores his fellow human beings to strive unceasingly to loftier heights, and not be distracted by the joys and sorrows that must accompany a person all the way during his existence on earth.

 

 

In the world’s broad field of battle,

   In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

   Be a hero in the strife!

Life presents myriad challenges, daunting tasks, and formidable hurdles. Confronting them requires Herculean willpower and a valiant never-do-die spirit. One has to summon all these traits to live through one’s life triumphantly, with dignity, and emerge with honnour. Giving up easily is escapism that brings humiliation, misery and ridicule. The author calls upon his readers not to give up, and accept defeat meekly. Capitulation to challenges is akin to the fear of fight seen in cattle.

—————————————————

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

   Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,–act in the living Present!

   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Never put your trust on soothsayers, astrologers, and people making prophesies. To curry favour, they might mislead you with rosy forecasts about your future that may or may not materialize. On the other hand, brooding over past failures, defeats, and indignities heaped by enemies yield no benefit other than weakening your resolve to get back to your feet and confront your tormentors, restore your livelihood, and re-build your life. Live in the present. Let the sad past overshadow your vision, nor the rosy forecast of astrologers and advisors numb you to inactivity. Take stock of your present, plan your strategy, garner your resources and begin to resurrect your life. That is the wise way.

—————————————————

Lives of great men all remind us

   We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

   Footprints on the sands of time;

When we read and reflect on the biographies of all great men and women, it becomes apparent that nearly all of them struggled their way to the zenith of their careers. Their lives were riddled with setbacks and their minds could never rest until they accomplished their goals. Some of them perished while in the midst of their lives’ battles. But, through their demise, they rose to conquer the heats of millions – like true heroes.

————————————————

 

Footprints, that perhaps another,

   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

The single-minded pursuit of a passion or a dream of these immortal men and women could or could not have brought them success in their life time, but their energy, dedication and indomitable spirit definitely inspires all those who dare to brave the pitfalls and hurdles in the quest of their goals. Thus, a hero’s sacrifice prods others to strive to achieve lofty goals in life.

————————————————

Let us, then, be up and doing,

   With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing

   Learn to labor and to wait.

At the end, the author calls upon his readers to rise, take on the challenges, and confront the demands of life with great zest, verve and valour. One must lumber on defying the odds of life. Failings are inevitable, but through perseverance and rectitude, one must learn to wage a battle against frustration and fatal weakness of mind.

—————————————————————-END————————————————————

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

 

 

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

 

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

 

 

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

 

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

 

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

 

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

 

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

 

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

 

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart

Civil Service Essays — Sri Lanka’s imposing military legacy

June 2, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Rolling back the military in Sri Lanka

There is no gainsaying the fact that Muslims and Tamil minorities voted in large numbers for Maithripala Sirisena in the 2015 general election in Sri Lanka leading to his spectacular victory over his powerful rival Mahinda Rajapaksa, the sitting president. Rajapaksa had failed to endear himself to these groups who perceived him to be majoritarian and not inclusive in his political outlook. Sirisena capitalized on such disenchantment and rode to victory surprising the pundits.

That the voters wanted a roll back of Rajapaksa’s authoritarian and family-centric rule is a clear signal coming from the election results. At the same time, the voters wanted the lengthening shadow of the military to recede, and a free, un-hindered democratic atmosphere to return to the country’s polity.

The triumph of the nation’s army against the LTTE gave them a larger-than-life image among the public. For some years, the public adored their military and did not resent their increasing influence over politics, administration and economy. However, as the sentiment associated with the victory began to fade, the adulation of the war heroes waned.

People in the Tamil-majority north eastern province did not quite understand why the military should maintain such a large visible presence in their areas. Rajpaksha’s foot-dragging on devolution of powers to Tamils added to their suspicion. The Tamils have turned their face away from militarism of the past decades. This was demonstrated by their eagerness to participate enthusiastically in the elections of the fast few years. They felt, quite rightly, that Rajpaksha’s government continued to doubt that the Tamils still harbor their misplaced desire to secede and form an independent country. Obviously, such fears are exaggerated and pose a threat to the process of reintegration of the Tamils to mainstream politics.

Rajapaksa, out of his gratitude to the armed forces gave them a long lease. The military spread its wings to benefit from the commercial regeneration of the post-war years. They began to intrude into areas like tourism, education, police, civil construction, and transportation sectors.

All these happened with the tacit approval of Rajapaksha, who could not realize the backlash such preferential treatment could generate among the civilian population. Quite naturally, the civilians, particularly the Tamils expected the new president to reverse such largesse for the army.
Independent observers point to the fact that Sri Lankan government, so far, has paid lip service to the cause of reconciliation between the aggrieved Tamils and the rest of the populace. The Oakland Institute conducted a survey between December, 2014 and January, 2015 and came to a similar conclusion.

Much to the chagrin of the Tamils, the military continues its over-sized and intimidating presence in their areas. Those displaced from their homes and farms during the insurgency years on orders of the military wait for the latter to wind down their presence quickly and hand them back their lands. This is not happening. The Tamils are, as a result, restless.

Devolution of power has proceeded in a snail’s pace. War crimes investigation, assured to the Tamils by Sirisena during campaigning, has not taken off the ground. Devolution of power remains a far cry. All these had begun to fray the nerves of the Tamil leadership.

But, things have happened to change, at least in some respects. Army is pulling back from the areas under its control in the Northern Province. This should be good news for displaced Tamils. The other step is the setting up of a Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation. This body is headed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, eminently suited for the responsibility.

While these steps bring a fresh air of optimism, a lot more needs to be done to curtail the overshadowing presence of the army on society. Pakistan is unable to shake off the military’s grip over the government and the society despite the public’s desire to clip their wings and let the civilian government call the shots. Sri Lanka must learn from Pakistan’s unsavoury tango with the military.

Sri Lanka’s new government is under increasing pressure from inside and outside the country to hasten the process of normalization and reconciliation. Everyone wants the wars and the Rajpaksha’s legacy to be forgotten quickly. The task that tops the agenda is to send the military to its barracks, quickly. The country must have armed forces that it needs and can afford. War-time mobilization is no longer needed. If these happen, Sri Lanka will soon become a vibrant, inclusive democracy.
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