The floods and consequent devastation in Kashmir have been an indescribable tragedy for its people. It is difficult to control tears when witnessing their plight and misery portrayed by TV channels. Our armed forces have done a commendable job. It is unfortunate that because of the anger and impatience of victims, there was stone-pelting in some cases. The tendency to play politics in the present situation is utterly irresponsible. The helpful role of some individuals and organisations in the rescue and relief operation is supremely praiseworthy. It is shameful that some evil persons resorted to thefts of the victims’ property and goods. They should be immediately arrested and promptly prosecuted. The Union Government’s financial aid of `1,000 crore should be appreciated. However, real assistance lies in providing psychological and emotional comfort to the victims which they sorely need. It is heartening that our Prime Minister and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have both pledged aid and assistance to all victims irrespective of political affiliations. If talks with separatists divide us, solidarity in tragedy may well unite us for a meaningful dialogue. Let us face it. In the present context, dialogue is not an option but a pragmatic necessity.
Belated Wisdom: Wisdom dawns belatedly as is apparent from tell-all books of Sanjaya Baru and Natwar Singh. Former TV anchor Rajdeep Sardesai is coming out shortly with a book on the recent parliamentary elections and what went on behind the scenes. Not to be undone, former Congress minister Jairam Ramesh is writing not one but three books. One on environment, another on land acquisition and a third on the Maoists. But at present the raging controversy is about former CAG Vinod Rai’s book, Not Just an Accountant. Some contents of the book cast doubt on the intellectual and professional integrity of former PM Manmohan Singh and questions albeit indirectly his financial integrity. Expectedly, the Congress has denounced Rai as a liar and a frustrated man who wants to ingratiate himself into the BJP. There is strong resentment for Rai’s statement that he was approached by some high-ups in Congress to omit any adverse reference to Singh who will now have to break his monastic silence and tell the truth to the nation. In my view, allegations and their refutation in print and electronic media lead us nowhere. The best course is to file a suit for defamation for the alleged false and libelous statement by Rai because the best place to ascertain the truth is a court of law and not noisy TV channels where panelists loudly interrupt one another without being controlled by the anchor who at times becomes a determined panelist.
Musicians Honoured by Rashtrapati Bhavan: Our President released eight commemorative postage stamps featuring masters of Indian classical music, namely Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, D K Pattammal, Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur, Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. In the course of his speech at the release function at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President paid well deserved tributes in felicitous language. “These eight maestros are without a doubt among the tallest luminaries in the history of world music. They have not only achieved personal perfection but have made extraordinary contributions, in their respective fields, to the development and evolution of the schools of music in which their talents were nurtured and honed. Their contribution and its enrichment of our cultural heritage cannot be quantified or estimated. It is infinite in its resonance and their names will be mentioned with great reverence. Their music will be cherished by the young and old for many decades to come.” Well done, Mr President. It is fervently hoped that you will also release stamps to honour musicians in Western classical music and also in jazz who also have brought joy and comfort to our people.
Sorabjee is a former Attorney General of India