Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Dr Omar Khalidi: An obituary

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Dr Omar Khalidi was born in Hyderabad and had his early education in the city. Later, he studied in the UK and the USA. He has been associated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been reflecting the views of Indian Muslims in the West, and hailed as a liberal Muslim intellectual.

A researcher, Dr Omar Khalidi had penned over two dozen books including the one on Muslim representation in armed and police forces in India. His book is said to have triggered the religion-based census in armed forces by the Congress-led UPA government. His areas of research including sociology, ethnic groups and their economic status, Islamic architecture and the history of Hyderabad.

The news of Omar Khalidi's death was received with shock in Hyderabad with several senior Muslim leaders condoling his death and describing him as a "great Hyderabadi researcher and author".

"Khalidi had pioneered research on Indian Muslims. The facts he presented in his research works were astonishing. His book on communal violence led to a furore in Parliament," said Islamic scholar Muhammad Zaheeruddin.

He carried out research on the economic and social status of Muslims in India since Independence. His famous works included "Hyderabad: After the Fall", a collection of academic papers. His books on Islamic architecture are “Approaches to Mosque Design in North America” and “Import, Adapt, Innovate: Mosque Design in the United States.”

Omar Khalidi's father, Prof Abu Nasr Khalidi, was a well known scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Mortality rate: Child born in Andhra Pradesh is expected to live 10 years shorter than a child born in Kerala

2010
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 27: A child born in Andhra Pradesh is expected to live 10 years shorter than a child born in Kerala, if the official statistics on average life expectancy at birth is any indication.

Andhra Pradesh has the lowest life expectancy at birth among all the four Southern States in the country, though its figures are slightly better than the national average. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its latest report, has pointed out that a child born in Andhra Pradesh has a life expectancy of 64.4 years, against Kerala's 74. The other southern States, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, are slightly ahead of AP with 66.2 years and 65.3 years respectively.

Kerala had achieved AP's life expectancy levels almost three decades ago. Kerala's life expectancy levels are poised to grow further in the next 10 years to 77 years.

"Life expectancy in the country doubled in the last 50 years. A child born in India before Independence was expected to live for just 30 years. It increased to 45 years in the 1960s and now to around 64 years. With improvement in health and living standards, the life expectancy is likely to cross 80 years in India by 2050," said senior geneticist Dr MN Khaja.

According to the MoHFW report, although the decadal increase in the country has slowed from 5.7 years in the 1970s to 3.2 years in the 1990s, the overall life expectancy increased by 14.1 years in the rural areas and 9.9 years in the urban areas during the period 1970-
75 to 2002-06. It is projected to increase by four to five years by 2021. Senior physicist Dr Mani Bhaumik predicts that in the next 50 to 80 years, man will achieve longevity with the average life expectancy crossing 100 years.

Though Andhra Pradesh has to go a long way on the life expectancy front, it has already reached the national goal of total fertility rate. It has a total fertility rate of 2.1 per cent which indicates population stabilisation. Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal share the TFR honours with Andhra Pradesh.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Viewpoint: Enter Kiran Kumar Reddy: Not a crown of roses

By Syed Akbar
N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who took over as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, is faced with a plethora of daunting tasks in the days to come. Though the transition of power from K Rosaiah to Kiran
Kumar Reddy has been a smooth affair, the administration of the State may not turn out to be a bed of roses for the new incumbent.

Kiran Kumar Reddy knows that he wears the crown of thorns, given the precarious financial situation of the State exchequer, the slowdown in the industrial sector, the lethargy in the administration, dissidence in
the Congress, and above all the simmering discontentment among separate Telangana and united Andhra supporters, both within the Congress and outside. He is also fully aware that his predecessor K Rosaiah, though a veteran politician, could not fully accomplish these tasks, leaving a big vacuum in the State administration.

And with the December deadline for Srikrishna panel report approaching fast, the separate Telangana or the united Andhra agitation would prove to be a major acid test for Kiran Kumar Reddy. Trouble is certain either way the Srikrishna panel gives its recommendation. The maintenance of  law and order in the next couple of months would then be a major test his administrative capabilities and political acumenship.

Kiran Kumar Reddy, no doubt, comes with a vast political experience and it's to be seen what political or social strategies he would adopt to maintain peace in the State once the T deadline ends. The Congress
high command has reposed faith in Kiran Kumar's leadership ahead of the anticipated T trouble, and it's to be seen how far he succeeds in the task.

Besides the adept tackling of the T issue, Kiran Kumar Reddy will have to take up a massive damage control exercise to keep the fair electoral image of the Congress intact. This may not be an easy task given the
strong Opposition and the internal wrangling and groupism in the State Congress, and the political missives the Jagan group would shoot occasionally, now that it's clear the Kadapa MP, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, had been sidelined during the change in the leadership.  He has to take along all groups in the Congress and strike a balance between pro-Telangana and united Andhra groups in the party.

Kiran Kumar Reddy will also find it hard, like Rosaiah, in providing adequate funds for populist schemes initiated by former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Completion of irrigation projects including the
contentious Polavaram project across the river Godavari is another major challenge before the new leader. Irrigation projects are at various stages of completion and the Rosaiah administration had in a way kept
them in cold storage for want of sufficient funds.

While the State got a young chief minister in Kiran Kumar Reddy, the exit of Rosaiah has proved that vast experience in politics might make one a good politician, but not an able administrator or team leader. In
the 14 months he ruled over the State, Rosaiah could not leave a mark of his own. Rosaiah could not have his say even in the Cabinet he headed, and he simply drove the horse-cart of YSR. And with the party
high command holding the reins, things became worse for Rosaiah in matters, be it State administration or Cabinet reshuffle.

When Rosaiah took over, the expectations were quite high and he, in a way, could not gain the confidence of people, as YSR did. As Rosaiah succeeded a highly popular leader, people compared his administration
with YSR's regime. This, in a way, turned out to be an uphill task for Rosaiah. He could not come out of the shadow of YSR's immense popularity and Rosaiah had to invariably make a reference or two to
Rajasekhar Reddy in his political speeches.

It's going to be a tight rope walk for Kiran Kumar Reddy, both in the selection of his Cabinet and tackling various administrative issues and initiating policy decisions. Kiran Kumar Reddy has to come out of the
shadow of YSR and take bold policy decisions and strong administrative steps if he has to leave a mark on the State political horizon. Any wrong step will make him another Rosaiah.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Viewpoint: Exit of K Rosaiah: The veteran gets a raw deal

By Syed Akbar
The sudden exit of K Rosaiah from the Chief Minister's gaddi on Wednesday is as surprising as his elevation to the coveted post 14 months and 22 days ago. Rosaiah, though a veteran of Congress politics, may not have guessed that he would lead the State in unexpected circumstances, and would have to resign in the most
unceremonious way. His is the second shortest stint as the Congress chief minister in the State after Bhavanam Venkatram.

Though the talk of resignation of Rosaiah has been in air for quite some time, political pundits did not expect it to happen so soon. Even Rosaiah's opponents were surprised by the unexpected turn of events.
The sudden rush to Delhi by Rosaiah on Tuesday turned out to be an anti-climax to the Rosaiah-Jagan face-off. The axe fell on docile Rosaiah rather than on defiant YS Jaganmohan Reddy, MP from Kadapa.

The exit of Rosaiah has proved that vast experience in politics might make one a good politician, but not an able administrator or team leader. In the 14 months he ruled over the State, Rosaiah could not
leave a mark of his own. He even could not successfully implement the schemes his predecessor YS Rajasekhar Reddy had initiated. He could not have his say even in the Cabinet he headed. Rosaiah simply drove the horse-cart of YSR. And with the party high command holding the reins, things became worse for Rosaiah in matters, be it  State administration or Cabinet reshuffle.

When Rosaiah took over, the expectations were quite high and he, in a way, could not gain the confidence of people, as YSR did. As Rosaiah succeeded a highly popular leader, people compared his administration
with YSR's regime. This, in a way, turned out to be an uphill task for Rosaiah. He could not come out of the shadow of YSR's immense popularity and Rosaiah had to invariably make a reference or two to Rajasekhar Reddy in his political speeches.

The criticism is that though Rosaiah continued with YSR's schemes, he attached too many strings to them, wining the wrath of several sections of people. The fee reimbursement and BC scholarship issue came as a
political weapon for the Opposition. Rosaiah's occasional outburst and his intolerant remarks did not go well with the Congress high command.

Nevertheless, he successfully managed to control the Telangana and the united Andhra agitations, and communal riots in the State capital, without much loss to life or property. He improved the State's financial
position through austerity, but YSR's populist schemes proved quite a burden for him.

Nature has all along been highly cooperative of Rosaiah's government through copious rainfall and bumper yields, but local politics failed to support his leadership. The criticism is that he failed to take along all
sections within the party. Right from the day he assumed office, Rosaiah faced some or other political missive from Jaganmohan Reddy or his camp. The non-cooperation to his administration reached its peak so much so that the party Central leadership had to intervene. The failing health too proved to be one of the reasons for his sudden exit.

The changeover in the leadership may be smooth, but whoever succeeds Rosaiah will have the daunting task of facing the challenges the separate Telangana and the united Andhra agitations would throw up, once Sri Krishna panel submits its report to the Centre. Besides, the successor will have to take up a massive damage control exercise to keep the fair electoral image of the Congress intact. This may not be an easy task given the internal wrangling and groupism in the State Congress, and the troubles the Jagan group would create occasionally, if the Kadapa MP gets a raw deal during the change in the leadership.

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity