From the editor-in-chief

India Today - - FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - (Aroon Purie)

Ihave al­ways be­lieved that no dis­puted po­lit­i­cal is­sue ever dies in In­dia. Per­haps it has some­thing to do with our strong be­lief in rein­car­na­tion. Look at Kash­mir (64 years), Ay­o­d­hya (63 years), left-wing ex­trem­ism (44 years), Te­lan­gana (42 years), the north-east­ern states of As­sam, Ma­nipur and Na­ga­land (more than 30 years), anti-sikh ri­ots (27 years), Cau­very river dis­pute be­tween Kar­nataka and Tamil Nadu (on the boil for 20 years), Gu­jarat ri­ots (nine years), to cite a few ex­am­ples. It is, there­fore, lit­tle won­der that the de­mand for Khal­is­tan which first turned vi­o­lent in the late 1970s but which we thought had dis­ap­peared af­ter the death of its chief pro­tag­o­nist Jar­nail Singh Bhindranwale dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Blues­tar in June 1984, is rais­ing its head once again. The vam­pire of Khal­is­tan is be­ing nour­ished back to life by Pak­istan.on Oc­to­ber 12, a joint team of the Delhi Po­lice and Haryana Po­lice seized a car loaded with more than 5 kg of the lethal ex­plo­sive RDX in Am­bala. On Oc­to­ber 23, the Sikh ex­trem­ist an­gle to the Am­bala seizure was con­firmed when the Khal­is­tan Tiger Force, a break­away fac­tion of the Bab­bar Khalsa, led by Jag­tar Singh Tara claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the plot. The group was likely plan­ning a larger ter­ror at­tack to rat­tle Delhi be­fore Di­wali though it claimed it was only tar­get­ing Congress MP Sa­j­jan Ku­mar for his al­leged in­volve­ment in the anti-sikh ri­ots of 1984.

Does this sig­nal a re­vival of the mil­i­tancy that plagued Pun­jab through much of the ’80s? I would think that is un­likely, sim­ply be­cause there is no ap­petite in the larger Sikh com­mu­nity in Pun­jab or else­where to sup­port an­other long bout of vi­o­lence. Ter­ror finds fer­tile ground when a pop­u­la­tion is feel­ing ag­grieved. Twenty years of rapid growth, from which Pun­jab has been a ben­e­fi­ciary, has greatly re­duced ma­te­rial griev­ances. Now, there is too much to lose from in­sta­bil­ity.

For our cover story, As­sis­tant Editor Asit Jolly trav­elled through Pun­jab to as­sess the ex­tent of re­vival in mil­i­tancy. The Pak­istan link is clear. The main pro­tag­o­nists of the new ex­trem­ism, Jag­tar Singh Tara and Wad­hawa Singh Bab­bar, the head of the Bab­bar Khalsa, both live in Pak­istan, which also gives them fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port. For now, the out­fits re­main too small to in­flict the kind of dam­age they did in the ’80s when they as­sas­si­nated a prime min­is­ter and bombed an Air In­dia plane. But as K.P.S Gill, the hero of the anti-mil­i­tancy cam­paign in Pun­jab writes, “There is, in coun­tert­er­ror­ism, no room for com­pla­cency in any mea­sure.” As with vam­pires, you have to put a stake through their heart while they are still sleep­ing. This move­ment is only in its nascent stage and the Govern­ment would do well to send a strong mes­sage to its spon­sor.

There is no bet­ter an­ti­dote to the pol­i­tics of griev­ance than the pol­i­tics of de­vel­op­ment. We bring to you in this is­sue the ninth edi­tion of our an­nual State of the States Re­port, now the es­tab­lished gold stan­dard for as­sess­ing the progress of In­dia’s states across a range of eco­nomic pa­ram­e­ters. This year, we have ranked states solely on the ba­sis of the im­prove­ment they have recorded un­der var­i­ous pa­ram­e­ters over the last one year. The study throws up some in­ter­est­ing new re­sults. By mea­sur­ing change over the last year, we have a bet­ter idea of which states are pro­gress­ing rapidly and which ones are rest­ing on lega­cies of the past. The cen­tre of In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal grav­ity has been grad­u­ally mov­ing away from the Cen­tre to the states over the last two decades. Good gov­er­nance in the states is cru­cial for a pros­per­ous In­dia and track­ing it is a good mea­sure of the health of the na­tion.


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