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January 2002




We look forward to your views on this for Letter to Editor 

or any topic for Forum. - Managing Editor



Delhi: The Most Endangered City on the Planet


Interest Rate Cuts: Harmful to the Economy?



Delhi: The Most Endangered City on the Planet


By Sreeram Sundar Chaulia


kaun jaaye Zauq par ab Dilli ki galiyan chhod kar?"

(Who, o poet, would ever want to forsake the lanes of Delhi and leave?) - Ibrahim Zauq


"tum shehr-e-mohabbat kehte ho, ham jaan bachaakar aaye hain."

(You call this city an epitome of love, I just saved my skin and escaped it) - Sudarshan Faakir  


Popular Times of India reporter and author, Chidanand Rajghatta, wrote after last month’s American Airlines plane crash that New York was “the most endangered city on the planet.” I beg to differ.


New York has borne the brunt of one major terrorist strike, a few minor/aborted bomb blasts and some cases of alleged suicide attack attempts. The plane crash was due to mechanical failure. Hillary Clinton may be right in claiming, “New York is America”, and Mr. Rajghatta may be given the allowance of the fact that he is stationed specially in America to cover news and allowed the surroundings to get the better of his judgement.


But in verity, with all due respect to American ethnocentrism, the city that has suffered the maximum brushes with death, militancy and lethal terrorism for nearly one decade is New Delhi.


The city where maximum number of plots of blowing up national monuments, crowded traffic, busy bazaars and places of worship have been conjured and implemented is New Delhi. The city where the ashen shadow of lurching cataclysm and the gory imagery of numbing explosions haunt citizens whenever they step out of their dwellings into public space is New Delhi. The city where one perpetually watches over the shoulder for ‘suspicious-looking characters’ and ‘unidentified objects’ is New Delhi. The city where paranoia, tension and vulnerability to the world’s biggest multinational enterprise, jihad, reign supreme, more than Jerusalem and certainly more than New York, is India’s besieged capital.  


The latest diabolical raid on the most sacred structure of post-independence India and the pride of Lutyens’ Delhi, Parliament House, comes on the heels of several hundred major and minor incidents that have set upon this once peaceful city like a black plague. A selected litany of murderous terrorist acts in the last three years attests my argument: 


·    Jan. 9, 1998 - Explosion near intersection where income tax office and police station are located, kills one, injures 55


·      June 27, 1998 – Terrorists fighting for Kashmir’s secession from India throw bomb from a jeep outside a club in Greater Kailash area in south Delhi, injuring two.


·      July 26, 1998 - High intensity explosive in bus parked at Kashmiri Gate, Interstate Bus Terminal, kills two, injures three.


·       Aug. 31, 1998 - Bomb at crowded Turkman Gate kills one, injures 17.


·       Dec. 19, 1998 - Crude bomb explodes in Bhajanpura Hindu temple at night, injuring many. 


·       April 16, 1999 - Powerful bomb in train at Holambi Kalan railway station kills two.


·       Jun 3, 1999 - Explosion near Fountain Chowk in the Chandni Chowk area in front of Red Fort, injures 27.


·       Jan. 6, 2000 - Bomb in passenger train car at Old Delhi railway station injures 20.


·        Feb. 27, 2000 - High intensity bomb explodes in guesthouse in Paharganj bazaar area, opposite New Delhi railway                station, injuring eight.


·       March 16, 2000 - Three days before arrival of U.S. President Bill Clinton, low intensity bomb injures seven at Sadar Bazar   market, crowded with people shopping for major Muslim and Hindu festivals.


·       June 18, 2000 - Bomb near bus terminal and open-air market opposite Red Fort kills two, injures 11.


·       June 18, 2000 - Second bomb five minutes later, placed under hawker stall at parade ground near first explosion site,       injures two.


·        December 22, 2000- Fidayeen sneak into historic Red Fort premises. 3 killed


·        May 19, 2001- Twin blasts near Army Headquarters and Dalhousie Road. 2 killed. 


·        August 10-15, 2001- Low intensity bombs all over the city on the eve of Independence Day. Several dozen injured. 


·        December 13, 2001- Daredevil blasts and suicide attacks on Parliament. 7 killed, 25 injured



These snippets do not include infinite foiled attacks or successful terrorist activity before 1998 and are meant to just educe an imagery of the dance of death that has overtaken Delhi. Poet Javed Akhtar’s line- maut chhupi jhaadi jhaadi re (death hiding behind every cranny) - fits contemporary New Delhi’s description to a T.


A common thread, binding all these aforementioned foul deeds, is the provenance of the attackers: Pakistan and POK. Syed Salahuddin, Masood Azhar, Majid Dar, Farooq Khalil, Mast Gul, Mohammad Salah, Dawood Ibrahim, Memon Brothers, Osama bin Laden and the rest of the rogue’s gallery have all, at one point or the other, armed, operated and sheltered across the border and pursued the obnoxious cabal of ‘planting the Islamic flag in New Delhi.’ The result of their demonic “freedom struggle”, abetted by Pakistani intelligence, is the human and emotional toll being absorbed everyday by residents of Delhi, not to mention the daily bloodbath in Kashmir to which the eyes of Indian politicians have become shamelessly inured.


If Delhi is to survive and see saner times and Kashmir is to return to normalcy, armchair hectoring about ‘pro-active’ policies and ‘hot pursuit’ will have to give way to forthright and courageous ripostes to state-sponsored terrorism and barbarism. 


Delhi today is a far cry from what a genius from the walled city wrote in the mid-19th century:


 I asked my soul, ‘What is Delhi? It replied: “The world is the body, Delhi is its soul”

                                                                                                              (Mirza Ghalib)   


As a Delhiite and a historian, is my yearning for a return to this idyllic condition asking for too much? Can India and the world not fight for the safety and serenity of their ‘soul’? 

[Sreeram Sundar Chaulia studied History at St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, and took a Second BA in Modern History at University College, Oxford. He researched the BJP’s foreign policy at the London School of Economics and is currently analyzing the impact of conflict on Afghan refugees at the Maxwell School of Citizenship, Syracuse, NY.]



Interest Rate Cuts: Harmful to the Economy? 


By Bhupatrai Bhuta

It is a false belief that lowering interest rate dramatically low would stimulate the present economy, making borrowing cheaper for industrial investments and for others to buy housing and other goods.


It is my belief that interest rate cuts are doing more harm to the present day economy rather than helping to bring us out of the recession.


When any industry grows too fast, faster than the demand, it is doomed to be in trouble. In the late seventies rapid growth of housing construction and speculative investments in housing resulted in over supply of housing in Canada and particularly in Metropolitan Toronto. Consequently, the housing prices tumbled and it badly affected other ancillary industries. Thanks to the large number of immigrants from Hongkong and other parts of the world who created some housing demand the blow was softened. As a result, the housing market recovered somewhat faster than expected.


In the past few years hi-tech industries experienced rapid growth which could not be sustained because of diminishing demand. For example, the expectation of replacing not so old computers and its supporting hardware with high-tech new ones every one or two years could not be accomplished as the consumers could not cope with learning the new technical upgrades fast enough and were not willing to discard their existing computers, because of the financial investments, with new ones. This brought a major slump to the hi-tech industries. Consequently industrial production was sharply reduced resulting in thousands employees being laid off.


In other instances, when any particular industry was doing well, more industries sprung up with an objective of making quick profits. Stock prices of these industries soared dramatically and when the supply of these industrial goods outstripped the demand, these industries got into serious trouble and the stock prices tumbled.


In the past, a large segment of the population, consisting of retirees and the middle-age people preferred to invest the greater portion of their savings in guaranteed income certificates (GICs) issued by banks and other safe investments to enable them have a reasonably happy and healthy lifestyle from the income earned from their investments supplemented by their pension income.


In recent years, lower interest rates induced people to invest in stocks and mutual funds yielding higher returns instead of GICs. However, the rapid slump in demand for industrial products brought down the stock values and lower interest rates left no suitable option for investments for this large segment of population. With relatively little or no income from their savings to supplement their pension income, the retirees now face a major financial squeeze. Their purchasing power has been considerably reduced, and accordingly the demand for consumer goods has been substantially reduced.


It is a false belief that lowering interest rate dramatically low would stimulate the present economy, making borrowing cheaper for industrial investments and for others to buy housing and other goods.


Why should industries borrow money for any expansion when there is little demand for their goods and, why should consumers borrow money to buy housing or other goods when their income is restricted and therefore unable carry their debt payments. Therefore, it is absurd for the government and economists to say people to spend more money buying consumer good to stimulate economy when a large segment of population’s disposable income is considerably reduced by lower interest rates, and in turn makes it difficult for them to buy even bare necessities.


In my opinion, investment rates for GIC should be around 7 to 8% if not more, in order to provide enough income to the above group so they may spend more of their disposable income and thus stimulates economy. One should not ignore the above group, which is very large, which substantially contributes to our economy through their disposable income. Along with other measures, such as reduction in taxes, providing supplement funds to low income and low interest loan to some industries will help to bring us out faster from the current sluggish economy.


(Bhupatrai Bhuta, an architect by profession, was Director of Planning at the City of Toronto Planning Board. He moved on to establish his own financing business. Presently, he is retired, devoting his time to arts and culture, writing and social work.)