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Citizen Charter: Empowering the Masses

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Ronald Evans Lyngdoh and Ronald Thabah
Basics Services that are supposed to be provided and services that one gets are at times mere topics of discussion that most of us would love to see it becoming  a reality in our state. Navigating the complex bureaucracy in search for the basic services is a daunting task for most common men that many of them have at times resorted to middle men to decipher how things works and gets it done, what one is supposed to be provided to them by the respective departments set up for that tasks. For instance applying for a ration card or a driving license is a difficult task for many Indians, the asymmetry in information is in fact the main causes of corruption at the lower level. Ordinary citizens lacking basic information at times are force to employ middlemen or dalals as they have few other options since they want or have to get the work  done.
If citizens are equipped with basic knowledge they will be easily be able to demand these   basic services as part of their rights to get services from the various departments. Here the citizens charter can come into play and ensure citizens get theirs right to demand services and in a time-bound manner. Therefore we can say that a citizens charter is a document that outlines services delivery standard in a time bound frame. According to the Department of Administrative Reform and Public Grievances (DARPG), a citizen charter is an understanding between the ordinary citizens and the service providers which outlines the quality and quantity a citizen can expect to receive in exchange for taxes or fees.

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Towards an Uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue - II

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Mani  Shankar Aiyar
Endemic

The endemic issues between Pakistan and India are, from a Pakistani perspective, Kashmir and water; from an Indian perspective, doubtless it is cross-border terrorism based on Pakistani soil. I have no readymade answers. I doubt that anyone has. But is that cause enough to despair of any solution ever being found?
The historical record would appear to disprove any military solution to the argument over Jammu & Kashmir. The attempt to annex the Maharajah’s state when he and Sheikh Abdullah were readying to throw their lot in with India failed; so did Operation Gibraltar; so did the attack on Akhnur that followed; as did the hostilities on the Western Front in 1971; as did the Kargil misadventure; as did the proxy war of the Nineties. And while there are those in India who maintain that the war of 1948 should have been pressed forward to a conclusion, I think Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was sensible in listening to wiser counsel. There is no military solution, and subversion will not work.
On the other hand, is jaw-jaw impossible? The United Nations, once the forum for grand forensic battles between Krishna Menon and Feroze Khan Noon and, later, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Swaran Singh, has in effect washed its hands of the issue; the Question of Jammu and Kashmir remains on the UN agenda but lies dormant ever since India and Pakistan agreed at Shimla in July 1972 to discuss bilaterally all issues related to J&K. Notwithstanding the Naysayers – and there is no dearth of them in either country – progress has indeed been made. These issues are an integral part of the Composite Dialogue initiated in 1997. And, to go by available records, a framework for resolution had reached an advanced stage under the aegis of President Musharraf and Dr. Manmohan Singh through the Sati Lambah-Tariq Azeez back-channel talks. There was agreement in principle on no exchange of territory or populations and working instead towards rendering the Line of Control “irrelevant” by promoting cross-border travel and trade and facilitating the reunification of divided families and friends. Issues related to J&K are not as intractable as they were once believed to be. Even if that progress is not being acknowledged now, it does seem feasible to hope that the resumption of upfront and back-channel contacts might yet move matters further forward even on J&K.

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Towards an Uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue - I

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Towards an Uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue - I

Mani  Shankar Aiyar
With just a few days left for Partition and Independence, Mahatma Gandhi made the suggestion that India and Pakistan should have a common army that would protect both from outside aggression for otherwise there was the danger that the two armed forces would only be ranged against each other. Opposing this suggestion, Mazhar Ali Khan, the famed left-wing Editor of The Pakistan Times argued in an editorial published on 10 August 1947 that the Mahatma was wrong in thinking that after Independence the two countries would be locked in armed confrontation because the only quarrel between the two was whether or not there should be Partition, and now that Pakistan was being constituted as a separate sovereign nation, there would be no further differences between the two countries who would happily co-exist as good neighbours. I quote below Mazhar Ali Khan’s words:
”The latest and most surprising recruit to the ranks of these prophets of despair is no less a person than Mr. Gandhi. His contention that, after the division, the two armies will perpetually stand on the border line in battle array, waiting for the first shot to be fired, is curious indeed…If the two States have Governments friendly to each other, as we sincerely hope they will, we see no reason at all why a similar friendship should also exist between the two armies…Once the two States are formed and the two armies constituted, the scope for future cooperation is unlimited, given goodwill on both sides…There is too much loose talk flying around these days of the dangers confronting Pakistan and Hindusthan both from each other and from foreign aggressors. This is sheer nonsense, and the only thing that can give substance to these imaginary fears is our own stupidity…Whatever differences the people of Pakistan and Hindusthan had among themselves have already been settled by the materialization of the division itself.”
The quotation is to be found at pages 50-51 of Mazhar Ali Khan’s “Pakistan: The First Twelve Years” published by the Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1996.
In the event, both the Mahatma and Mazhar Ali Khan were wrong: neither could an independent sovereign state, which is what Pakistan was and is, do without its own armed forces; nor would Partition end, as Mazhar sahib fondly believed, the causes of war between the two countries. Indeed, within months of Independence and within Gandhiji’s own lifetime, his dire apprehensions of armed conflict came true. And alas, tension, suspicion, fear, animosity and a history of wars and near-wars has been much of the history of the last 64 years.

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Construction of Hydro-electricity dam in North Eastern Region Towards Economic Development

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Samit Chowdhury and Swarnali Das
The North Eastern Region (NER) of India lies in the convergence point between SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations). In other words, where SAARC ends ASEAN begins and therefore the strategic and topographic importance of the region are significant. The NER of India is known for its huge reservoir of rich natural resources as region is endowed with diverse biodiversity, fossil fuel, coal, limestone, forest resources along with exceptional assortment of flora and fauna. North East India comprises of the 8 states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, which have all the potential to transform into a commercial hub, particularly in the areas of energy, tourism, ITES and trade in line with Government’s Look East Policy with the neighboring countries.
The energy sector of India is characterized by burgeoning energy deficit inspite of potential for nuclear, solar and other renewable source of energy generation. However, India’s richness in water resources and river system prompted the Government to adopt a pro active stand towards harnessing its untapped water resources for judicious utilization towards generation of electricity and irrigational facilities to Indian farm lands. As against the above backdrop, the construction of mega or minor hydro dam has become imperative towards materializing the change in energy scenario of the nation. The NER too is also blessed with country’s largest perennial water system which inculcates a potential for hydrological resource. The River Brahmaputra and Barak along with its tributaries, shares a major land mass of the region which are sufficient enough for enormous energy generation, as the region receives a fair amount of rainfall due to its sub-tropical climate, thus results in continuity of water resource throughout the year. The topographical alignment of hill and plain areas of the region also results in steady flow of water in their downstream journey. Thus, an idea of tapping the resource with the construction of a Dam, doesn’t sounds unjustified under the prevailing conditions!!!!

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Stunting scenario in Shillong

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Nayan Sarmah
Motorcycle stunt riding or simply stunting is on a rise in Shillong. Stunting is a motorcycle sport characterized by stunts involving acrobatic maneuvering of the motorcycle and sometimes the rider. Common maneuvers in stunt riding include wheelies, stoppies, burnouts, 360, circles and so on. Sport bikes and even normal bikes above 150cc have become a common vehicle for stunts.
The rage of zooming bikes is what was seen earlier on the city roads but now it has shifted to a whole new concept of stunt riding. The less travelled roads in the city have provided the young riders to stunt on. You can see a wheelie or stoppie being performed on the main roads too. Is this too dangerous for the rider? Is it a risk to the life of the pedestrians? Is it a sport or a crime? These are the questions surrounding the stunting scenario today.
Lack of place for stunts has prompted these much enthusiastic youth to opt for stunting on the common roads. The administration is trying to take action but every other day; you can see a stunt performed on the public roads. It has put the life of pedestrians at risk and it’s high time, these stunters do not try to risk others life for their own passion.
Stunt riding has been going on in India for about around 6-7 years. And it started in Shillong around 3-4 years back with members of ‘XBHP’ trying with stunts. It was even more sensationalized and gained popularity among the Shillongites after “MTV Stunt Mania” had its audition in the city last year.  Also it can be associated with the launch of some good bikes by Indian bike makers as well as the influence of foreign stunt videos on the internet. And, add to this a sense of competition in the minds of the youngsters over here, and you have the perfect combo for stunt riding spreading like virus all over the city.

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