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Cartoon on Sonia Gandhi unbecoming of the BJP

THE Bharatiya Janata Party has every right to put the United Progressive Alliance government on the mat over the skyrocketing prices but what its Madhya Pradesh unit has done is in poor taste. Notwithstanding its denials, it is clear that the cartoon of a woman dubbed as ' Mahangayi Dayan' on the cover of its magazine Deep Kamal is meant to be none else but Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

This is obvious when one considers that the prime minister, the finance minister and the agriculture minister are the other politicians whose cartoons also appear on the cover.

This does nothing but lower the standard of political discourse. Once a party starts stooping low to undermine its rival, there is no knowing where it will all end. Today it is the BJP that has employed such a trick, tomorrow the Congress could do it and so on till political discourse degenerates to actual violence.

As it is, the BJP has a propensity to use words and idioms that are increasingly being shunned in polite conversation, a practice in which its new president Nitin Gadkari has led the way.

For instance, a word like ' dayan' ( witch) is surely a usage that a political party should avoid. Even today, in parts of the country, widows and single women are sometimes dubbed as witches prior to being assaulted and even murdered. It is one thing for a moviemaker to have a song representing inflation as a witch, and quite another for a mainstream political party to adopt it lock stock and barrel.

There may be reason for the BJP to be frustrated with its present political state. But the way out of the doldrums is for the party to adopt new thinking and not make shabby attacks on its rivals.

Flood of woes for Ladakh

THE flash floods caused by the sudden cloudburst in Ladakh have unleashed widespread devastation, killing at least 105 people.

Ladakh, like Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, is a semi- desert region. Due to the looseness of the soil and the lack of vegetation, such regions are particularly vulnerable to landslides and flooding, even after a comparatively small amount of rainfall. Most of the people there live in unbaked mud- brick houses which are designed for dry weather and cannot withstand such rain. Given its vulnerability -- because of both aridity and remoteness -- a region like Ladakh needs special protection.

While it is unclear whether the cloudburst can be attributed to climate change, it cannot be denied that there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of extreme and unpredictable climate in recent times. This is a challenge that will only become more serious with time and is something that our weather scientists need to factor in when making forecasts. The government needs to invest much more in terms of both resources and policies to minimise the impact of tragedies such as the flash floods in Leh.

For instance, if the government had invested in a Doppler Radar for Leh, the cloudburst could have been predicted hours before it took place and helped save a lot of lives.

Pak PM in the lead role

UNWITTINGLY, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani seems to have played the lead role in what could have been a masterful political satire. He was completely taken in by the Potemkin village of a relief camp the district administration of Mianwali prepared for his visit.

The visit was supposed to have been a public relations exercise for highlighting the federal government's relief efforts and presenting Gilani as an almost messianic figure, providing a healing touch to the victims.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has been left feeling rather sheepish in what was his first visit to the affected areas. What added to his embarrassment was the fact that he was also duped of the many cheques of Rs 5,000 that he handed out to the victims at the ' relief camp'. However, it is heartening to find such humour being displayed by government officials-- who are otherwise notorious for their dullness -- that too in the midst of a calamity. It also provides the people of Pakistan with a Gilani joke, a refreshing change from all the Zardari jokes doing the rounds.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 9, 2010
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