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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is there another perspective to APJ incident ?

I love my country.  I have great regards and reverence for the great Abdul Kalam.  I rever ‘Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam’ for his many facets of a   a renowned aerospace engineer, Professor, Chancellor, President of India, man with a noble mind, clean habits, straight talks, his love to children, his inspirational writings and more.  By awarding Bharat Ratna to him, the Nation  rejoiced.  

He is a role model to every Indian citizen and his words are so inspirational.  He once said about teaching : -    To enable development of youth first and foremost, the teacher’s love for teaching is essential, with teaching as the soul of the teacher. The teacher must realize that they are responsible for shaping not just students but ignited youth who are the most powerful resource under the earth, on the earth and above the earth. ………. Teacher should celebrate the success of the students”

What a shameful act committed by the US in New York in Sept 29.  Does not it need wholesome condemnation ?

There are reports that our beloved  Former Indian president  APJ  was frisked by the airport authorities in New York Sep 29.  There has been a strong Indian protest and a subsequent US apology for the breach of protocol.  Officials later said that  both countries will soon frame 'mechanisms for facilitating airport procedures for dignitaries' to prevent such incidents in the future.  The MEA spokesman was quoted as saying that they immediately lodged a protest over the incident with US and the  US Government has promptly written to former President Kalam expressing  its deep regret over the incident and has assured us that it is taking corrective steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future.

The octogenarian Kalam  was in the US to attend a series of events,  and was returning home from the John F. Kennedy by an Air India flight when the airport authorities boarded the aircraft to check the coat and shoes of the former Indian president, who had already occupied his seat.  He was already subjected to “private screening,” as he does not come under the category of dignitaries exempt from security screening procedures under stringent American guidelines.  However, after he entered the aircraft, U.S. security officials came and asked for his jacket and shoes, claiming that these items were not checked according to prescribed procedure during the “private screening.”    Kalam did not object and subjected himself to the security check, officials said.  The authorities felt that it was in bad taste to ask him to handover his coat and shoes after he was seated in flight.  Following the protest, the US Govt stated that they have the utmost respect for former Indian president Abdul Kalam. “We deeply regret the inconvenience that resulted for him as a result of a Sep 29 incident involving the security screening at John F. Kennedy airport in New York,' the Obama administration said in its apology.”   Subsequently, charge d'affaires of the US Mission in India Peter Burleigh personally hand-delivered a letter from the US Transportation Security Administration to Kalam, and a similar letter was delivered to the Indian government.

What an indignity !  This is not the first time – earlier in April 2009, the airline authorities frisked him at Delhi Airport when he was to board a Continental Airways,  clearly breaching the protocol.

Great man, that he has been, the former President APJ cooperated and downplayed the incident.  

Very little did the common man knows of the protocol – but if those at the place had done only what was instructed as a security exercise, should they be condemned ? or appreciated ??   Not sure whether the officials went about their job or they over reacted fully aware that APJ came under the category of dignitaries exempt from security screening or should not they be aware of that ?

Are they simply paranoid of security or are they meticulous in whatever they do without impunity to anybody ?  Just compare this to what one witnesses in Indian Airports, on roads and any other public places !    

Every politician worth his salt tries to be the VIP – there are restricted places including the tarmac where some car with some politician can enter – there are no rules on road, red beacons atop vehicles they can flout anything, there has been so much of outcry on who are all eligible and when to have the red light and siren on the vehicle, the road signals, yellow lines, traffic, one way are all for the common man – Tata Sumos, Scorpios and other vehicles with party flags (of whatever little outfit they be) will whizz past ordinary people all the time and none  can whine  - every other person is important and expects or forces preferential treatment. People will drop names, will show press cards and what not to get that preferential treatment in Airports, cinema halls and even in temples – while thousands calmly wait for their turn.

Security and rules are only for common people.  There are some other countries who respect and value and lives of its citizens and those special persons are prepared to do minor sacrifices of being subjected to all rules and security checks. Here things are different… we will only have our own way !  If it is the rule, any person including any dignitary of a Foreign country would be subject to that elaborate security rules.  Will it ever happen ?

We got so perturbed calling it a disrespect shown to dear APJ.  He is one of the topmost Scientists who certainly can understand nuclear energy much better than all of us…… but are we heeding to his views and are we listening to him when he calls the nuclear plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu "clean and safe ?    He recently told -  "I have visited the plant and it is really modern and sophisticated. I am absolutely confident about its safety. What is important is that 2,000 MW of power is ready to be pumped into the grid. We are a power hungry nation,"   He after visiting the plant earlier this month, said anybody who had any query regarding the safety of the plant can meet him.

But the Project  estimated to cost around Rs.13,160 crore ($2.6 billion) has come to a screeching halt  following protests by a group of people who have even stopped Scientists from entering the project site.  The former President APJ  speaks that  the country needs  clean energy and batted for the use of nuclear energy.  He calls it modern, safe and the Nation wants it.  He allays fear on the safety giving a clean chit to the plant stating that he is confident about the safety standards maintained in the plant.

But the group of protesters state that ‘they know things better’; ‘APJ is trying to give them some sops’ and that they will not allow Kudankulam plant to be inaugurated !!  - that is a democratic right for us and that is not any affront or disrespect to APJ.   There are reports that locked out by protesters, nuclear scientists and engineers at the 2,000 MW Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu are now working out of a guesthouse to complete administrative paperwork. The scientists say that maintenance of sensitive electronic gadgets and other hi-tech equipment has been affected.

But reports say that there is a mass people’s movement against Nuclear energy !  -  protesters congregate daily to participate in a relay hunger strike.

What is good for the Nation ? and who is right ??? 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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