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July 15, 2013

The Egyptian Crisis , July 16-31,2013 , Just In Print, Page 21

The Egyptian Crisis  ( INTERNATIONAL )




Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had handed over power to the military, ousted by a historic 18-day wave of anti-government demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took part in the protests aimed at forcing the longtime leader out of office.
The unprecedented protests on the streets of Cairo caught the world's attention. Demonstrators were gathered peacefully in Central Cairo Jan 25, 2011 to demand an end to Mubarak's nearly 30 years in power and protest economic woes in the North African nation. The protests came days after Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced into exile by demonstrations in his home country.

In Egypt, discontent with life in the autocratic, police state has simmered under the surface for years. But there has also been growing discontent over economic woes, poverty, unemployment, corruption and police abuses.

The U.S.-educated engineer Mohammed Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected president in June 2012. But he ran into trouble almost immediately afterward. His opponents accuse him of authoritarianism and demand that he step down.
Morsi's supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood have rallied strongly behind Morsi, and have clashed in the streets with his opponents. The military says it is giving Morsi until Wednesday to compromise with protesters. It was unclear what the president's next step would be.

United under the name Tamarod — Arabic for rebellion — the protesters began their campaign two months ago as a signature petition to demand Morsi's ouster. The group, which said it gathered 22 million signatures, rallied in Cairo and across the country last Sunday, the first anniversary of Morsi's ascension to the presidency.
Protesters are calling for new presidential elections. The New York Times says the five friends who began the signature campaign all "worked in opposition news media, but have distanced themselves from political parties. They were all Muslims and personally devout, but deeply distrustful of the political Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The military's warning to Morsi thrust the armed forces back into the center of Egyptian politics. The military effectively ran Egypt for 16 months after Mubarak's ouster, but retreated after Morsi was elected. The military says it is not looking to take power. And it is "still licking its wounds from the year and a half in which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces directed Egypt's transition to democracy.

The White House says publicly that it's committed to democracy in Egypt, and has urged Morsi to ensure "that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government." The Obama administration is urging Morsi to call early elections, and is warning the military against staging a coup. The U.S. realeased more than $1 billion in military aid to the country that is dependent on the Egyptian government meeting certain democracy standards.

The army has been accused of a military coup after its deadline for a resolution to the country's political crisis elapsed with rival protesters out in force on the streets of Cairo.
Egypt's leading Muslim and Christian clerics and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei are set to jointly announce details of a political road map for a short transitional period followed by presidential and parliamentary elections.
More than two years after Egyptians overthrew an authoritarian, military-backed leader and later installed their first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the country is facing the possibility of more forcible change — from the military. It is a dangerous moment with no guarantee that another transition will be any more successful than the last.


The military played a role in Egyptian politics for decades but withdrew 10 months ago under pressure from Mr. Morsi. Although many opposition groups applauded the military’s willingness to again intervene in politics now, that would be a major setback for Egyptian democracy. It would effectively give the military an opening to reinsert itself whenever there is a political crisis — and it is certain there will be more if Egypt wants to be on the road to real democracy. 


The ultimatum seemed to leave Mr. Morsi with few options: cut short his presidency and hold early elections; share power with a political opponent in the role of prime minister or — the worst outcome — fight for power in the streets. For the sake of all Egyptians, the government and the opposition need to finally work together.
Opposition groups, meanwhile, have proved hugely successful at harnessing discontent and bringing people into the streets but not at articulating a coherent message, winning elections and projecting themselves as an effective alternative political force. There is no excuse for the violence on both sides, including the killing of seven people and the ransacking of offices of the Muslim Brotherhood. No one wins if Egypt remains an economic basket case at war with itself.

Egyptians are especially irate over the miserable economic situation, as the prices of bread, gasoline and natural gas continue to rise, despite generous subsidies. The Egyptian pound is in freefall. And there are frequent power outages, because the government lacks the money to import electricity.

Although the official unemployment rate is only 12 percent, says economic expert Hagras, the figure is relatively insignificant, because most Egyptians already worked in the shadow economy. Almost one in two Egyptians lives below the poverty line of $2 (€1.54) a day. The population is growing, and so is the number of high-school graduates, but most lack jobs or prospects. To create sufficient numbers of jobs, the economy would have to grow by at least 8 percent a year -- compared to the most recent growth figure of only 2 percent.

The tourism sector, the country's most important source of income, is in especially bad shape. Some 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010.
Exploding government debt is one of Morsi's biggest problems. The president has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for months over a multibillion-dollar loan agreement. In return, however, the IMF is demanding measures to clean up the government's finances, which would include cutting subsidies for fuel.
This would affect the poor most of all. Morsi has been reluctant to take such harsh steps, fearing the loss of his social base. But the longer he delays reform, the more difficult it becomes.

Thanks to generous loans, especially from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Morsi is able to come up for air periodically. The Sunni sister states have approved several billion euros in loans in the last few months. This enables Morsi to focus on other things, such finding new allies, now that more and more citizens are turning their backs on him.

On June 15, Morsi attended a large rally in a Cairo stadium that was broadcast on Egyptian television. Speaking to 20,000 supporters, the president announced that Cairo was severing diplomatic ties with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Perhaps because Damascus is an ally of Iran, it didn't seem to trouble the president that the imams who spoke after him began fanatically agitating against Iranians and other Shiites, deriding them as "unclean" and as "infidels."

Eight days later, one of these "infidels," a Shiite cleric, entered the majority-Sunni village of Abu Musallam, near Cairo, where he and a group of fellow Shiites planned to celebrate an Islamic holiday. When the men and the teenagers of Abu Musallam found out, they formed a mob.They attacked the houses of Shiites with rocks and Molotov cocktails, dragged their screaming victims into the street and stabbed them with knives and swords. "Kill them!" the tormentors shouted. By the time it was over, four Shiites had lost their lives and dozens of men lay bleeding in the dust. A few police officers looked on but did not intervene. They only removed the bodies.

On June 15, Morsi embraces a man named Assem Abdel-Magid, a leader of the group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. Abdel-Magid was partly responsible for the 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor, where 62 people died. He was also one of the backers of the murder of former President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. Egypt's current president has made the terrorist group socially acceptable. Three weeks ago, he appointed a member of Gama'a al-Islamiyya to be governor of Luxor. However, the man resigned when local citizens protested.

Abdel-Magid is an important ally of the president. Morsi has even tolerated a death threat Abdel-Magid made on TV against German-Egyptian writer Abdel-Samad, because he had supposedly insulted Islam.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called upon the Egyptian government to distance itself from the death threat, but Morsi remains stubbornly silent.
"Its close relationship with a former terrorist shows how morally bankrupt the Egyptian regime is," says Abdel-Samad, who now lives under police protection in Germany.

Obama is wary of seeming to force America’s will on the Arab world’s most populous country. That careful neutrality comes with real risk, however. In country that remembers American tolerance of Mubarak’s repressive regime all too well, Obama is accused of turning a blind eye to Morsi’s power grabs and insularity. 

In fact, many protesters—a broad term, given their varying social, political and economic agendas—were already wary of Obama, who only pushed Mubarak towards the exit after several days of massive protests and his regime’s thuggish response. In some quarters the wariness turned to outright hostility after the U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson, warned last month speech against more mass demonstrations.

The anger towards Patterson raises an issue of particular concern for the White House: the security of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which was threatened by an angry mob on the same day last year as the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. On Sunday, White House national security council aide Ben Rhodes said that “additional security measures” are being taken at U.S. facilities in Egypt.

Patterson may have been impolitic, but her words accurately reflect the view of an administration keen to see Egypt—whose crippled economy has only survived months of haggling with the IMF over a $4.8 billion loan thanks to massive subsidies from oil-rich Qatar—find a measure of economic and political stability. Washington may not have been overjoyed to see Morsi, a leader of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, emerge from Egypt’s June 2012 elections. But Morsi’s willingness to maintain Egypt’s peace deal with Israel, and his relative friendliness towards the U.S., have appeased Washington.
That raises the possibility of the military ruling the country again, as it did after Mubarak’s departure—a period that left no one happy. Even the military is disinclined to assume a political role and Obama, mindful of America’s reputation not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world, isn’t eager to been seen supporting what many are describing as a possible military coup.

A return to military rule would violate the democratic “process” that Obama calls paramount. How to respond would be just the latest in a series of unpleasant dillemas the Arab Spring has handed him since it began thirty months ago.
The coup in Egypt is unfortunate and dangerous for any democracy. According to some sources this is the second Arab Stream and people have won through army as Morsi is communal and fundamentalist. But the people have forgotten that that he was an elected leader. Army in a democracy must be under its civil master. Ninty percent of people were against emergency in India. But none of the opponents were in favor of Indian Army’s intervention. Morsi may be unpopular,but he was a symbol of democracy.

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,
Sambalpur , Odisha






July 01, 2013

Snowden isolates America

http://newindianexpress.com/opinion/Snowden-isolates-America/2013/07/01/article1660828.ece

01st July 2013 07:11 AM
Edward Snowden’s escapade after blowing the whistle on omnibus surveillance operation PRISM launched by the security agencies of the United States has evoked a rather curious ding-bat meme from a section of US intelligentsia that empathises with his cause. Some have complained that Snowden did not do what might a brave patriot have done by staying in the US to face the legal music as did Daniel Ellsberg, after leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Tim Weiner, a former national security reporter for the New York Times, for instance, said that Snowden should have the courage to come home, to fight in court, under the law and asked quite a few questions. “Why contemplate asylum in Ecuador, a country with one of the worst records on free speech and free press in the Western Hemisphere? Why does he act like a spy on the run from a country he betrayed?”
It would seem that for these observers, Snowden’s exposure is understandable and forgivable only as ungovernable moral outrage and not as a calculated effort to document for the US public the almost unimaginable reach of the US surveillance apparatus. They would prefer it if Snowden, in addition to difficulties he has already experienced, returned to the US to offer himself as a human sacrifice in an attempt to demonstrate the worthiness of himself and his cause to his most determined critics.
They, however, forget that Ellsberg, a member of the national security establishment, had initially declined to identify himself as the source of the leak. Instead, he went into hiding for 13 days after the New York Times broke the Pentagon Papers story in order to evade “the largest FBI manhunt since the Lindbergh kidnapping”, avoid questioning, achieve the maximum publicity for his disclosures, and circulate the papers to as many media outlets as possible.
In fact, Ellsberg himself seems to endorse Snowden’s action. He told a TV show: “I think very realistically, that if he wanted to be able to tell the public what he had done and why he had done it and what his motives were and what the patterns of criminality were in the material that he was releasing, it had to be outside the United States. Otherwise he would be in perhaps the same cell that Bradley Manning was, and that’s a military cell.”
The US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) permits military custody indefinitely of an American citizen who is a civilian. Had he stayed, Snowden could very well have found himself at Quantico, naked perhaps like Bradley was for a while, and be really incommunicado, as Bradley has been for three years with the single exception of being allowed to make a statement when he pled guilty to 10 charges.
The truth is that just as he was about to confront Chinese president Xi Jinping with awkward questions after months of painstaking preparation of the Chinese cyber-espionage dossier, US president Barrack Obama received a rude jolt when Snowden blew the whistle. And his administration has been less than sure-footed in its response to the Snowden shock.
The US administration could have shrugged off the Snowden revelations or handled them as an element in the US domestic debate over intensive/extensive NSA surveillance. Former lawyer turned Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, through whom Snowden organised his exposure of US surveillance, has said that in his dealings with Snowden the 30-year-old systems administrator was adamant that he and his newspaper go through the document and only publish what served the public’s right to know. “Snowden himself was vehement from the start that we do engage in that journalistic process and we not gratuitously publish things,” Greenwald said. “I do know he was vehement about that. He was not trying to harm the US government; he was trying to shine light on it.”
After Greenwald broke the news of Snowden’s flight to Hong Kong, Washington could have rushed someone there, offering him a chance to testify before Congress and a fair trial. If the US establishment was ready to have an honest discussion about its powers, Snowden might have wound up not in Moscow, but back in Washington.
Instead of treating Snowden as a public spirited whistleblower who may have gone a bit too far, the US administration went on an overdrive to project him as a traitor. National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander told a congressional committee to assert that Snowden had done “irreversible and significant damage” to the United States. US representative Peter King called Snowden a defector and said it was time to get tough with China and Russia. Former vice-president Dick Cheney called him a traitor who might have been working for China.
Voices like those of Greenwald tried to cut through the chaff being thrown around by the government and its supporters to distract attention from the content of Snowden’s leaks. They asserted that Snowden is essentially a whistleblower carefully revealing embarrassing secrets — but not vital operational details — in order to force a public debate on surveillance practices that the US government is desperate to keep private. But the US establishment haughtily ignored this sane counsel.
Not unexpectedly, the US bullying tactics met a stonewall of indifference and hostility from the rest of the world, which not only ignored US cries for help but questioned the US government’s claim of grievance over the cyber-violation of the sovereignty of other countries.
This is a clear indication that the world is now less willing to be dictated by US prescriptions of right and wrong. Russia and China have openly rejected the US appeals for help and Ecuador has ramped up its defiance by waiving preferential trade rights with Washington to indicate that it retains its right to give asylum to Snowden. Even the friendly countries are looking suspiciously at the United States. For that the fact that Edward Snowden has been declared a fugitive by the US law is not an international problem. It is America’s problem.
The writer is a former professor of sociology, IIT-Kanpur.
Email: upendrasarojsharma@yahoo.com

Why Odisha Undeveloped ? ( States) Just In Print , July 1- 15 , 2013


It is ironic that the question "why is Odisha one of the poorest and why is is backward" has become perennial. Someone in his comments has mentioned about Justice Khanna Enquiry Commission. Justice Khanna Enquiry Report dates back to the year 1967. Even at that time, Orissa was the poorest and evoked wonders as to why nature's blessed land lags behind others. In this context, Justice Khanna observed:"Despite its rich history and despite its natural reources, Orissa is one of the poorest States in the Country. The State has sometimes been
described as a hapless Cinderella of modern India.

We need a corruption free and dedicated political class and bureaucracy - one that prides itself on having the opportunity to develop the State rather than on the number of peons/drivers and support staff. The politicians and bureaucrats need to be well aware of the socio-economic environment of the State and be sensitive to the needs of all classes of people, whether rich or poor - whether educated or illiterate - whether farmers or industrialist. Human will, vision and pro-activeness can do wonders - especially with the resources that we have. The only thing however is that development must be well thought off - we need not blindly follow what others have done. Different symptoms call for different treatment.

With the total of 18 districts of Odisha included in the list of 150 extremely poor districts of the country, the state tops the set of data compiled by the Planning Commission on the instructions of the Supreme Court. The Apex Court has directed the Planning Commission to prepare the list of extremely poor districts in the country to provide them the required additional foodgrains.

Orissa holds the first position with 18 districts of the state featuring in the list, followed by 15 districts each of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. 14 districts of Jharkhand too have been included in the list.
The state has failed to develop the agriculture sector, although it offers employment to 60% of the workforce, in a similar manner like other Indian states such as Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. This despite of the state's economy being mainly dependent on agriculture to push growth.

Considered as the ninth largest state in the country with nearly 156 lakh hectares of farm land, it has the land area under cultivation sat about 62 lakh hectares. Analysts have said that merely 34% of the agriculture land is irrigated which is a major reason for low productivity. Hence, the state government needs to take more steps for developing proactive policies to bring improvement in the conditions of farmers.

The Government of India’s National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in a report has released the well-being index of India. The same tell about the quality of life in India. This report has mentioned that six districts of Odisha being in the list of worst twenty districts of India. Rayagada district ranks the worst in India followed by Kandhamal, Nuapada, Bolangir, Koraput and Bargarh, all in Western and Southern part of the state, are ranked at 4,9,10 & 19 from the bottom respectively.

It has been many years since the Government. of India has been pumping thousands of Crores as special budget for the welfare of these districts of Western and Southern Odisha through scheme like KBK. Then how is it that after so many years of huge money inflow into these districts there is no change in statistics? Who is accountable for this mishap? Is the Chief functionary of the state not responsible for this?”
Odisha, one of the poorest of states in the Indian union, is inhabited by more than 24% of tribal population concentrated mostly in North-Western, Western and Southern part of the state. Due to the negligence of all successive state governments, the development of these three patches are far behind the Coastal Odisha tract by any parameter even though these regions are full of minerals and natural resources.

In two occasions, during 1936 and 1948, these tribal dominated Western and Southern regions amalgamated into then Odisha division (precisely the present Coastal Orissa) from erstwhile Central and Madras presidency of British ruled India respectively to form Odisha state in the line of linguistic similarities. But, reality is, till now the native people residing in these regions don’t know how to speak the state official language Odiya, which is practiced in Coastal Orissa districts in particular. Vast region of Western Orissa communicate in variants of Sambalpuri language (also termed as Kosli by some) and with numerous tribal languages practiced by the indigenous tribal population. This leads to poor enrolment in school which encourages Odiya as the medium of education and thus a high school dropout rate is seen in these regions. Students are forced to learn Odiya language in school which is different than what they practice in day to day life.

The differentiation between the then Odisha Division (Coastal Odisha) and the newly added Western and Southern regions is well maintained by all successive state Governments, while allocating funds and in developmental works.
All the development work is happening at the coastal region and Bhubaneswar area, the state capital.

Inhabited by app.50% of the state population (17,899,735 as per 2001 Census) and spread in 28.73% of total land of the state (44,355.4 Sq Km), this Coastal Odisha tract is given utmost priority by all the successive state governments and have been enjoying all sorts of developmental works in the name of Odisha. Where as a vast land with more than 71.27% of the total land area of Odisha state (109,992 Sq Km), and with a population of little above half of the state population is depriving basic needs.

In recent development except for the Central University, all the educational and research institutes of national repute, such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), etc awarded by Central Government for the entire state are located in and around Bhubaneswar. This has brought a distinction for Bhubaneswar as the only city in India to have an IIT, AIIMS and NISER at one location. 

Central Government has also proposed to establish a National Innovative University (World Class), National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), ESI Medical College and Hospital, Railway Medical College in Bhubaneswar, and another IIIT in Berhampur in Coastal Orissa, neglecting the rest state.

 If you consider the allotment of health facilities in the state the picture of disparities done towards the rest of the tribal regions of the state gets crystal clear. There is just one state run Medical College, viz, VSS Medical College & Hospital, Burla in Sambalpur for the entire Western Orissa, there are state run SCB Medical college in twin cities of Bhubaneswar - Cuttack , MKCG Medical College in Berhampur, a city just 179 Km from Bhubaneswar by Road and 165 Km by train.

Mahandi Coal Field Ltd. (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd, a Central Government entity which has operation in Western as well as Central Odisha, is too establishing a Medical College Hospital in Talcher Town, 150 Km from state Capital Bhubaneswar, with state government’s active persuasion. The defense dept has proposed to set up a medical college in Baleswar, another town in Coastal Odisha with a distance of 198 Km by Road from Bhubaneswar.

State government has recently proposed to upgrade Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar to a Medical College with a hoping budget of 32.5 Crores. It is also been proposed to set up Government. Medical College & Hospital in Baleswar where as the state government is trying to establish 3 Private Medical Colleges in backward tribal dominated Western Orissa in PPP mode since last 15 years through Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) with a financial grant of 5 Crores each. There is no progress seen in establishing these Medical colleges in these backward regions of Odisha.

So, a question instantly arises in mind, “Why private Medical College & Hospital for poor tribal region of Western Odisha, who can’t afford a full meal a day and central and state funded Government. Medical Colleges & Hospitals for Coastal Odisha?” Is this not pure discrimination? 

 It is to be noted  that Balangir, Kalahandi, in this back ward Western Odisha, many times have created news in national media for starvation deaths. Low-income people in these backward districts can hardly afford the cost of good health care even for their children who suffer from early death, under nutrition and anemia. As against the State figure of 65 infant deaths per 1000 life births, district like Kalahandi in the Western Orissa had 119 infant deaths.

Prevalence of undernourishment among children is also high in these tribal dominating districts. The health situation is really gloomy if we look at maternal death rates. Women in these households work hard at home, in the fields, bear children and do not get the medical attention while giving birth to children.

Occurrence of malaria remains a threat to the people in the tribal areas. As many as 158 blocks in tribal districts, which contribute 70 per cent of the malarial cases, suffer the worst. Sometimes outbreak of mysterious diseases in these regions takes a heavy toll of life. Poverty and deprivation leave very little money with people to spend on the treatment of diseases and illness.

The state government is earning maximum revenue from these under developed tribal belts through mining and industries. When the industries are exploiting and polluting the region, are opening health care units and educational facilities in Coastal Odisha with state government’s active persuasion. The recent Vedanta group promoted World Class University in Puri- Konark Road with a budget of 15,000 Cr and in an area of 6,000 Acre sets the perfect example. Vedanta Industries Ltd has established two Aluminum plants in Western Orissa, the refinery unit and captive power plant at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi District and smelter plant with captive power plant at Jharsuguda, where as it is opening its 100 bed capacity burn and trauma care unit in Bhubaneswar, which is at a distance of 400 Km from Jharsuguda and more than 450 Km from Lanjigarh.

Hundreds of crores rupees received from central government in the name of KBK has become a source of exploitation for the state government. The head quarter of the KBK scheme is at the state capital Bhubaneswar, far away from the problems people are facing in their everyday life. This century of exploitation by all successive state government since the formation of the state in 1936, towards these tribal pockets has forced them to shout for a separate state of Kosal comprising 11 districts and a sub-division of Western Odisha. Also, the Maoist guerillas are spreading in rest tribal districts in rapid speed taking advantage of this. These entire exploitation stories remind the colonial era and raise some fundamental questions about democratic rights in India. 

The ruling BJD government arranged a ‘Swabhiman Samabesh’ at New Delhi on 12th , June, 2013. Party managers left no stone unturned to make the rally a success in support of their demand for special category state (SCS) for Odisha. It may be noted that the demand for special category status to Odisha is not new, the party made it a prestige issue after the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar was awarded Rs 12,000 crore under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) scheme for the 12th Plan period, much higher than Rs 1,250 crore allocated to Odisha. The party is trying to showcase the sharp difference in fund allocation as political discrimination.

Naveen Patnaik is not doing the homework. The people Odisha heavily relied on hischarisma and hoped he will do some miracleStill he is going to the center for begging . We are unable to spend sanctioned amount for the KBK and returning the unused money to the center then what will we do if we get more money and facilities from the center when we are unable to take the benefit.

Now a days more and more states want a special status for them so that they could get central funds as grants. The states do not just want to raise resources for the purpose. Besides, such states are being ruled by regional parties whose leaders have very high ambitions, some of them wanting to become PM even. The kind of rallies being organised these days in Delhi by leaders of regional parties are just an attempt to put pressure on the Central government which is already starved of funds. The Food Security Bill which has high stakes for the ruling Congress party would further strain the finances of the central government. Where would then money come from to meet the demands of states like Bihar and Odisha?

Odisha has a lot of mineral resources. But it does not give it any benefit except for royalties, which is meagre compared to the revenue from these minerals. There is a freight equalization policy, which essentially eleminates any locational advantage for making the plants closer to source of raw material. If it is allowed the explore it's natural resources, it will be the richest state in India. Odisha has not seen any central govt. investment to speak about in last 50 years . Having said that there is no point begging, Polical class is neckdeep in corruption. The additional funds won't necesarily mean betterment of Orissa. No state need any assistance, India should move to a more federal system where states are given some financial autonomy. At present, it is all controlled by the central govt and they are distributing the funds on political considerations, not economic.

The whole Special Category Status is a political humbug. The higher echelons of both the parties  of the state and Centre will  sit together over a cup of coffee and the papers will be on the table.

SIDDHARTHA SHANKAR MISHRA,

Sambalpur,Odisha

No More Privacy in US ( Foreign Policy ) Just In Print , July 1- 15, 2013




The  NSA  ( US National security agency ) was created along with the CIA and the FBI, they've been spying big time,it's just now we're realizing it. Nothing new. Facebook became the first to release aggregate numbers of requests, saying in a blog post that it received between 9,000 and 10,000 US requests for user data in the second half of 2012, covering 18,000 to 19,000 of its users' accounts. Facebook has more than 1.1 billion users worldwide.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) is secretively collecting personal phone and internet data of millions of people in the US and around the globe to prevent terror attacks on American interests worldwide and inside the homeland.
Americans love their privacy and do not lightly tolerate it being violated. This is a long-running tradition that dates back to the country's founding. The Founding Fathers did their best to protect it, and put provisions in the Constitution to make sure the government respected it. This is changing, though. Technology is advancing, and with it comes newer and better ways to watch people which were impossible only a few decades ago. The ability curious observers have to spy on unsuspecting people is as astonishing as it is   frightening. 

The order to do so should have directly come from the White House; in fact from the Oval office. Since the agency is doing it in the name of national security, not too many Americans except media are protesting the surveillance. In its defense, the White House maintains that it took the permission of national security court and did not overstep the authority of the US Congress.
Privacy issues have become very controversial since the War on Terror began. This is a serious problem which seems to be ignored by most politicians. The federal government is  seeking information  from organizations that collect personal information.
If the phones and internet data of some of the American residents and citizens have been followed up by national security agency (NSA), even then Mr. Obama has not done any thing illegal - leave alone him violating Constitution. If it turns out that there was something fishy about the whole operation by either the Federal Supreme Court or the US Congress or both by applying the laws to maximum precision and the White House admits its fault, even then Mr. Obama cannot face any retaliatory action from the US Senate.

He took the permission of a special national security court and did not overstep the authority of the US Congress, if media reports are to be believed. Once these two things are taken care of then it comes within his formal and legal executive authority to order the surveillance, should the national security situation warrants it. He did not do anything to face impeachment proceedings as it is the US Congress which should have allowed formation of NSA with such wide ranging powers—which can be abused in extreme conditions—and also the formation of the special national security court. All should hope that Mr. Obama ordered the wiretapping and phishing in good faith and in national interest without any prejudice and bias.

Washington is facing growing international pressure to explain the previously undisclosed surveillance programme identified in the documents leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as ‘Prism’.
U.S. intelligence officials said that National Security Agency surveillance programs have disrupted "dozens" of terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 countries around the world.

A string of media reports describing secret US surveillance programs underscore the degree to which laws originally designed to track phone records relating to criminal investigations have been expanded to authorize the collection of vast quantities of new forms of data that intrude much more deeply into the private lives of both citizens and non-citizens.

Recent revelations about the scope of US , national security surveillance highlight how dramatic increases in private digital communications and government computing power are fueling surveillance practices that impinge on privacy in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. There is an urgent need for the US Congress to reevaluate and rewrite surveillance laws in light of those technological developments and put in place better safeguards against security agency overreach.

The US government may have a legitimate interest in engaging in certain types of targeted surveillance for specific periods of time. However, the secrecy of these programs prevents an assessment of whether these measures have proper oversight and whether they unnecessarily impinge on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and privacy.

One thing is certain that the White House has trespassed some of the diplomatic niceties and procedures. The better thing for the US is to properly check immigration from all sides and all regions and as a repeat for emphasis it should make a proper immigration and exit policy. Once the US Congress makes a balanced and proper immigration and exit policy, it should use its executive powers to maximum to influence the other Western and European Parliaments to follow the suit. The spreading of the wealth by sharing and proliferating is mandatory for the stability of the whole globe. The US should remain the leader in innovations and in wealth generation; by expanding its influence worldwide and that comes more with symbiosis with equals and quasi-equals. Predation is good for making humans, superhuman, more egoist and multi-functional and not to offend allies and friends.

In Australia, the conservative opposition said it was "very troubled" by America's so-called PRISM programme, which newspaper reports say is a top-secret authorisation for the US National Security Agency (NSA) to extract personal data from the computers of major Internet firms.

Australia's influential Greens party called on the government to clarify whether Canberra's own intelligence agencies had access to the NSA-gathered data, which according to Britain's Guardian newspaper included search history, emails, file transfers and live chats.
"We'll examine carefully any implications in what has emerged for the security and privacy of Australians," Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a television interview, when asked whether Canberra had cooperated with Washington's secret initiative.
Both countries are members of the so-called 'five eyes' collective of major Western powers collecting and sharing signals intelligence, set up in the post-war 1940s.
Australia's spy and law-enforcement agencies want telecoms firms and Internet service providers to continuously collect and store personal data to boost anti-terrorism and crime-fighting capabilities - a controversial initiative that one government source said would be even more difficult to push through now, after news of the secret U.S. surveillance of Internet firms.

The Prism program is potentially a lot more nefarious. The US intelligence community has access to just about everything that you do, say, or post on Facebook, Google (Gmail, Search, YouTube), Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft (Hotmail, Skype), and Apple. As far as we can tell, there’s no separation between domestic and international citizens, nor innocents or people suspected of wrongdoing: Prism, in a word, appears to give the US government completely unfettered, warrant-free access to almost all of your online activity and communications.

It’s not that simple, though: The intelligence community would undoubtedly claim that there would be more terrorism without these Big Brother-like measures – a claim that’s awfully hard to refute, when all of the data is top secret. 
For the time being, if you’re worried about Uncle Sam reading your messages and looking at your photos, your best bet is to stop using big, US-based Internet services such as Google and Facebook.


The upshot of these reflections is that the relation between surveillance and moral edification is complicated. In some contexts, surveillance helps keep us on track and thereby reinforces good habits that become second nature. In other contexts, it can hinder moral development by steering us away from or obscuring the saintly ideal of genuinely disinterested action. And that ideal is worth keeping alive.

Some will object that the saintly ideal is utopian. And it is. But utopian ideals are valuable. It’s true that they do not help us deal with specific, concrete, short-term problems, such as how to keep drunk drivers off the road, or how to ensure that people pay their taxes. Rather, like a distant star, they provide a fixed point that we can use to navigate by. Ideals help us to take stock every so often of where we are, of where we’re going, and of whether we really want to head further in that direction.

Ultimately, the ideal society is one in which, if taxes are necessary, everyone pays them as freely and cheerfully as they pay their dues to some club of which they are devoted members – where citizen and state can trust each other perfectly. We know our present society is a long way from such ideals, yet we should be wary of practices that take us ever further from them. One of the goals of moral education is to cultivate a conscience – the little voice inside telling us that we should do what is right because it is right. As surveillance becomes increasingly ubiquitous, however, the chances are reduced that conscience will ever be anything more than the little voice inside telling us that someone, somewhere, may be watching.

Siddhartha Shankar Mishra,
Sambalpur, Odisha