Friday, September 30, 2011

Can P Chidambaram survive the 2G Crisis: The March 25th 2011 Note and its implications

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The only lasting contribution of the Congress party school of Dynastic Fascism to Indian statecraft is the self destructive passion for factionalism and this talent was on full display in the recent eruption of conflict between P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee. The victory, if it can be called so, was to Pranab Babu, the wily Bengali Bhadralok who made the dhoti clad Chettiyar from Tamil Nadu witness his humiliation before the whole nation on public T V. And that self confessed brain challenged Home Minister even says that he is "satisfied" and the "matter is closed". I say brain challenged because the morning's newspapers say the P Chidambaram suffers from "amnesia" a la Kalmadi.

The whole Nation is aware that Raja alone could not have carried out the 2G Spectrum Scam without the complicity of other powerful political personalities. The Cabinet decision was to refer Spectrum pricing to an Empowered Group of Ministers (GOM).The Finance Minister concurred with the Prime Minister's decision to withdraw the Spectrum pricing from the purview of the Group of Ministers. Now Shri Raja can claim on the basis of the March 25th Note the policy of issuing licences on the first come first served basis was taken with the full knowledge and concurrence of the entire Government of India. In his press conference, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has reiterated this fact before thae whole Nation with P Chidambaram standing behind him like a nervous school boy. With one fell stroke, P Chidambaram was exposed as an abettor in the 2G Spectrum Scam before the whole Nation and piece de resistance was the thanks from Chidambaram for this brilliant drama.

If we look at the political carreer of P Chidambaram we find that he was with the G K Moopen faction of the Tamil Nadu Congress and has been trined to put factional loyalties above Party, Dynasty, and Ideology. He was instrumental in having the office room of the then Finance mInister bugged and the reason behin the bugging, perhaps had something to do with the 2G Scandal. Anyway Shri Pranab Mukherjee never forgave this slight and like a true Bengali Babu waited for the opprotune time and struck a blow from which Chidambaram will not recover. The March 25th 2011 Note is a time bomb with a very slow burning fuse time only to explode in the face of Chidambaram. The questions that directly stem from the note are:

1 Why did the then Finance Minister concur with the First come First served basis fro pricing of scarce spectrum.

2 Why did the then Finance minister not insist that the NDA policy be reviewed and stall the pricing on the basis of the 2001 prices.

3 Why did the Finance Ministry agree to let the DOT do the processing of the licences bypassing TRAI.

4 Is there any difference in the positions taken by Raja who is now in Tihar jail ( a dalit and I have already pointed out this in an earlier blog) and the high cast P Chidambaram who is still the Home Minister of India, though his Sivagangai MP seat is likely to be struck down by the courts.

It is claer that Pranab Da has ensured the exit og P Chidambaram from the cabinet and his exit is only a matter of when and how.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Subash Chandra Bose: His Majesty's Opponent by Sugata Bose

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Subash Chandra Bose is a tragic figure in Indian history and an enigmatic personality in Indian historiography. Jawaharlal Nehru, his rival and a self-appointed heir of Gandhi declared with joyful glee that Bose had died in a plane crash near Taiwan and thereby ignited a controversy which is still reverberating. Nehru relief at the untimely demise of Subash Chandra Bose was transparently clear and I dare say that Nehru was the real beneficiary of the death of Subash Chandra Bose. The plane crash removed from the scene a very powerful and charismatic figure from the landscape of Indian politics. And the quick elimination of Gandhiji meant that in the post Independence era, Nehru was virtually without a rival. Even Sardar Patel was constantly humiliated by Nehru in the years following Independence, that he died a broken man, his dreams shattered by the barrage of humiliation inflicted by the first Prime Minister. Incidentally, on the day Gandhi met his untimely death he was scheduled to meet Nehru and talk to him about the impending resignation of Sardar Patel from the cabinet.

The political life of Subash Candra Bose is fascinating and the eminent historian Dr Sugata Bose has done a splendid job in contextualizing the career of Bose within the framework of the national movement. Jawarharlal Nehru being a rumbustious factional leader had created a pro-left faction within the Congress party. While public ally deferring to Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru astutely created a ginger group consisting of left wing ideologues like Kriplani and Jayaprakas Narayan and this left oriented faction was being pitted against the nationalist such as Bose. One outcome of this strategy was the marinalization of Subash Chanra Bose within the Congress Party and even when Bose won the election to the Presidency of the AICC, the Nehruvian faction prevailed upon Gandhi to disown Bose. The rest as they say is history.

Bose's decision to leave India and seek the assistance of Japan and Germany still remains a controversial issue in Indian historiography. The pro-Nehru bran of state sponsored historians like Bipan Chandra and the like hint that Subash Chandra Bose was a proto fascist and expalin the alliance with Germany in terms of an inherent anti-democratic streak in the personality of Bose. What they deliberately ignore, and this point is well argued in Sugata Bose's recent book, is that factional in-fighting within the Congress aided and promoted by Jawarhar Lal Nehru had made the exit of Bose from the Congress inevitable.

Sugata Bose has quite rightly pointed out that Bose did not envisage a long term alliance with Germany as he was fully aware of the implications of German Nazi ideology. In fact Germany hardly gave any help to Bose except arranging his transport via submarine to Japan. However, SubashhCharda Bose's alliance with Imperial Japan did result in untold suffering when war crimes were comitted by the Japanese forces on the Islands. Subash Chandra Bose being the head of the Interim Government cannot be absolved from the blame for the massacres in Port Blair. Sugata Bose unfortunately does not deal with this painful chapter.

The book under review is very good and scholarly and deserves to be read by all serious student sof modern Indian history.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Injustice to Anjali Gupta: The Ministry has to answer

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The suicide of the Indian Air Force Officer Anjali Gupta is both shocking and frightening. It is shocking because the so-called electronic media that rallied around Jessica Lal and Ruchika Girhotra completely ignored the plight of Anjali Gupta. It is frightening because a woman who complained about sexual harassment against her superior officers was found guilty of "indiscipline" and her services were terminated and the young woman was discharged "dishonorably" thereby adding insult to injury. The officers against whom Anjali Gupta has complained must be made abettors to the suicide in the same manner that S P S Rathore was proceeded against. If India is to retain its pretension to being a civilized society.

Anjali Gupta had leveled serious charges of sexual harassment against her superior officer who happened to be a male. Her complaint was ignored and her male officers ganged up against her and fabricated a case of "indiscipline" against her and the prime witness against the woman was the very officer against whom she had leveled serious charges. The Supreme Court guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual harassment were completely ignored and this young woman was paraded before a hostile male inquiry committee.

I think the Media which covered the case in the very beginning soon gave up and moved on to other stories. Had the case been fraught under the searchlight of the media then this injustice could have been avoided. Anjali Gupta was driven to suicide by a corrupt male officer corp and an indifferent media.

Friday, September 9, 2011


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

NATO forces aided by France and USA have succeded in defeating the Libyan armed forces militarily and driving the legitimate government into exile. This repets the pattern of diplomacy that we have been seeing right from the time the Soviet Union collapsed and USA became the single pole around which the international order revolved. This development marks a reversal of the two principles that had been the basis of Western statecraft from 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed. The two principles were: respect for the legitimacy of states and their territorial integrity and second non interference in ther internal affirs. These principles were thje lessons drawn from the wars between the Dutuch, the French and other European powers (Jermey Black in his History of Diplomacy) has a very good account of this.

In Kosovo, Srebia, Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Libya the West has invoked two multi national bodies to provide legitimacy for its unilateral interverntion. First, the International Court of Criminal Justice and second the United Nations Security Council. Some support was also garnerred from the Arab League and African Union. It is interesting to note that the Arab League encouraged the NATO to go ahead with the no-fly zone thereby undermining the capability of the Libyans to protect the territorial integrity of their state. The use of the International Court of Criminal Justice in a one sided m,anner is yet another innovstion. In any civil war especially one in which foreigh support is palpable there will be retaliation. The rebels too comitted atrocities in Benghazi for which no retibution is forthcoming. This one sided invocation of International Court of Criminal Justice, a victors court to whcih the defeated are brought in chains, will lead to the establishment of alternate and competing tribunals ion which Bush, Blair and now vern Obama and Sarkozy may be arraigned as "war criminals".

The NATO forces gave blanket support to the rebels and in the run up to the take over of Tripoli NATO launched a relentless air bombardment of Tripoli which did not have an ari defence systtem causing lage scale deaths and the so called frwee embedded media and jounalaists ignored the deaths of civilians in Tripoli while exaggerating the toll in Benghhazi. Surprisingly, the USA has made a hero of Belhadj, a notorious al qaeda operative who was sent to Libya via the "extraordinary rendition" rpoute made famous by President Bush and Libya kept him in prison. Now Belhadj has joined hands with NATO and he is on the same page os the Americans as far as Libya is concerned. The US policy has only led to Libya coming under the influence of the al-Qaeda network and along with Somalia will be the hub of terrorist activity.

One definite consequence of the ill advised invasion is the promotion of "identity politics" and USA will have to bear the brunt of this short sighted policy. Like in Iraq where USA promoted the Shiaas at the expense of the Sunnis,here in Libya the USA is encouraging the Berbers against the Turegs. Largew number of Turgs have been killed and the Western media is complicit in not reporting human rights violation of the Berbers. And as is the case in Iraq the final issue is OIL. Libya has Afric's largest known deposit of Oil and with Saudi Arabia being drained of its reserves by 2025,the Western oil comapnies can exploit Libya along with Iraq for another 30 to 40 years. This is the truth.

Monday, September 5, 2011


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Pondicherry University, one of the most dynamic of Central Universities in the country celebrated the Teacher's Day in a grand manner. The Vice Chancellor, Professor J A K Tareen has given back to the Faculty of the University the dignity that was denied to it be by individuals who cannot be named. His vision of making the university a leading center for highe learning is being realised and he repeatedly speaks of the low ranking Indian institutions of higher learning get in International surveys such as the London Times list and the Shanghai list. His remedy is to increase the student base of the UNiversity, thereby maving from what can be called fishing in a "small pond" for "crabs and fishes" to an ocean where "whales and sharks" are the quarry--the potential Nobel Prize winners. There is an implecable logic in this analogy and I hope that this grand vision unfloded in this University is realised.

The Chief Guest was Professor M Anandakrishnan, Chairman of the Board of Governors, IIT, Kanpur. His pep talk suited the occasion and he boldly said that the reason for the declining standard of education was he rampant political interference. He pointedly said that if Sir S Radhkrishnan were to revisit the Universities with which he was associated with like BHU, Andhra UNiversity and Madras University he would be shocked at the falling standards. Identity politics coupled with political interference were the two single most important factors for the lack of credible universities in India. Pondicherry University remains an exception primarily because the Vice Chancellor remains committed to making the University a world class institution.

The Best Teacher Awards were presented to the outstanding Faculty members. The teachers were evaluated on the basis of 20 paramenters and the those who scored more than 4.5 on the 5.0 scale were selected for the awards. It was an honour to receive this prestigeous award.

The phenomenal growth of the University has led to the University being ranked at # 16 in a recent survey done by the weekly magazine India Today. Anyone who has been associated with the institution as an oldtimer (those who joined at the very inception of the Univeristy and not those who wafted in with the gentle breeze) will say with conviction that what they see on the Campus is a total transformation of the academic culture and administrative practices.

I wish the Univerity, its Vice Chancellor, Professor J A K Tareen and the students the very best.