Saturday, December 29, 2012

Civil Society and Crime, Corruption and political apathy in India

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The death of the gang rape victim in a hospital in Singapore has led to an upsurge of emotion in New Delhi and other parts of urban India. Candle light vigils, black ribbon marches, placards displaying solidarity with the victim, named Nirbhaya or fearless by the doctors of Safdrajang Hospital in recognition of her valiant battle to live, which she ultimately lost. The anger against the criminal political class is palpable but unlike the Arab Spring which was ignited by the fiery protest of a street vendor and spread the the rest of the Arab world from Tunisia, these protests will not do much to change the system. The one man one vote and first past the winning post system of elections has atomized Indian society that the aggregate vote is actually controlled by the political parties which are not afraid of such protests because they are actually a mass of individual protests within a spontaneous field of reaction. The political parties particularly the dynastic fascists know that the tempo of protest cannot be sustained until the next election. Is there a way out? The liberal intelligentsia has been claiming that the rape of the Delhi girl and the sustained brutality to which her body was subjected is a symptom of the "rage" of the underclass Marinate this argument with a critic of the neo liberal economuc agenda and you have that thundering darling of the West, Arunditti Roy coming up with the argument that rape of the Delhi girl was only a protest against "poverty" and "marginalization".What this argument fails to consider and hence dangerous if it starts attracting attention is that it is an overt endorsement of crime against women. Perhaps the novelist in Roy does not quote comprehend the implications of her own argument. Another point is that most of the perpetrators of such crimes,and I am going only by anecdotal evidence, are from the OBC castes. The politically correct media will not highlight this fact, but it is germane to the discussion. In fact all the six arrested rapists of the Delhi girl were from the slums of Delhi and were from castes which historically have been violent. The bad old days of the British Raj they were called "criminal tribes and castes". I am only suggesting that in the name of woolly liberalism we should not loose sight of ground realities and forget history. The liberals in the Indian establishment seem to be advocating a jurisprudence predicated upon caste hierarchy. If the criminals are from the lower castes then their ctrimes can be ignored and if the victim is a dalit then the crime become all the more serious. Such relativism of crime has led to political interference making it impossible for the police to tackle the crime. There is another factor. Too uch civil society activism on frivolous issues spear headed by Arvind Kejriwal has led to the dilution of civil society as a force in Indian public life.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Professor Martha C Nussbaum's tirade against Hon'ble Narendar Modi

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books We have always known that American academics are servitors of the state and Martha has just demonstrated the truth of the statement by releasing a statement criticizing Hon'ble Narendar Modi, the newly reelected Chief Minister of Gujarat, saying that his election is a "blot" on Gujarat. As a recent convert to Judaism, Martha perhaps does not want to even refer to the atrocities against the Palestinians by her coreligionists armed and supported by the weapons supplied by her very own US of A. Of course she does not have a word of criticism against USA for the genocide it has done in Iraq on the patently fraudulent WMD argument. I feel that Professor Noam Chomsky, and I differ from him on political issues, has intellectual honesty and integrity which this distinguished Professor of Ethics sorely lacks. Martha Nussbaum, a white woman with a highly privileged upbringing in Hew York and an exclusive education in the Classics with a doctorate from Harvard, is no mean academic. She is a distinguished scholar in her own right and I am not questioning her scholarship. I am questioning her academic integrity in pointing out some blatant falsehoods in her tirade against the Chief Minister of Gujarat. A philosopher cannot be selective in his or her gaze. If Martha is concerned about the plight of Muslims in Gujarat and I do not doubt her interest, then she must take a public stand against the humiliations imposed on people travelling to the USA having moslem names. Of course as a convert to Judaism she has no real interest in Muslims or their plight. Her concern is in the Aristotelian sense purely rhetorical: Liberal ideology demands an anti Modi posture and Martha adopts it. Further, the US lawmakers too have written to their Secretary of State and so Martha joins in the chorus of clowns,whistling in the dark about the Hon'ble Chief Minister. I am surprised at the passionate intensity with which these liberal anti India Modi baiters jump almost at cue. We will not find the Martha of the world talking about American war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently the drone attacks on civilians all over the world. But she is filled with rage at Modi and what for? The 2002 Riots have been investigated by the highest judiciary of the land. Martha is supposed to be a Professor of Law and as such I expect her to have respect for judicial process. But No. If Modi is found innocent then the judges are at fault. What Martha wants is a Wild West type of hanging judge who will play to the gallery. I do not know what kind of law youn have learnt ot r teach. In my understanding this is not law: it is inquisition and a liberal inquisition always portrays itself in the rainments of moral superiority. And we in India know far too much about the USA and its black deeds to be taken in by the pretenses of the Marthas of the world. A philosopher is not an ideologue. He or she searches after truth, elusive though it may be. Martha Nussbaum has not bothered to keep abreast of the developments on the judicial front. Her source perhps is Teesta Setelvad who was convicted for perjury in the Best Bakery case for bribing the witness. The Courts have not found an iota of evidence against the Hon'ble Narendar Modi. But as Karl Popper stated so many decades back, ideologues are not interested in truth or facts. They are only interested in projecting lies, half truths and distortions which are repeated so many times that they end up appearing as truth to the non discerning mind. Martha has been saying things that are purely speculative to put it mildly or she is lying in the interest of her ideological allies. Martha Nussbaum has done splendid work inthe field of Human Capability building and if she applies her own theories to Gujarat she will find that (1) the quality of life has improved over the past 10 years (2) schools drop out rate has gone down and girl children enrollment in very high in Gujarat (3) health care even for heart and kidney ailments is availble to the poor and needy. Unlike USA where the unseemly debate over health care is still raging. at least the Hon'ble Narendar MOdi has done one better that Barack Obama, And in a democracy the will of the people must be respected. Even in Muslim areas the Hon'ble Chief Minister has registered resounding victories. Professor Martha Nussbaum has gone completely off the deep end on this issue. Many of us who respected her views and taught her ideas will now rethink our positions. A woman who is so blatantly racist in making damning comments about a tall national leader on the basis of propaganda and lies does not need to be taken seriously. Her position on Narendar Modi is akin to the Holocaust deniers- refuse historical facts which are empirically verifiable for woolly ideologically charged rhetoric. Martha you have shown yourself to be a cheap white supremist who does not dare criticize his or her own countey for all its crimes but become fashionably outrages at a non existent crime. If you are all that concerned, Martha, why do you keep quiet on Why are you quiet about the human rights record of Israel? Is it because you are a recent convvert to Judaism? Really how does one convert to Judais mwhat the Congress Party did in 1984 when its workerrs killed more than 15,000 Sikhs all over northern India.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA;:ANGER ON THE STREETS

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books India is fast becoming a country where women are no longer safe. As the father of a young teenager I am concerned about the sort of society in which young girls will enter. In the work place sexual harassment of women has become almost routine and women mostly either quit their jobs or deal with it using administrative procedure which are usually ineffective. In the domestic sphere violence against women has acquired social sanction in that even the police are reluctant to register cases against the guilty party and even the rare case that come up for trial usually ends in an acquittal as the legal process is so cumbersome and weighed against the victim that the woman just gives up. As India is becoming more open to a neo liberal economy, women have started entering the job market and they face exploitation and worse. In Banglore women soft ware professionals returning home in the Company car have been raped and murdered and the sentence given is so negligible that the message goes out loud and clear that violence against women is not a priority. The statistics for what in India is called "dowry deaths" is just appalling. Every minute a woman is being burnt alive for dowry and the conviction rate for such murders is extremely low and the law is not being enforced. The surprising sociological fact is that groups which did not have "dowry" as part of their social customs have now started demanding dowry and this new development is leading to a lot of social problems. In New Delhi, a Congress politician killed herself and her 2 year old daughter due to harassment by the in-laws for dowry. It took a full week for the police to even register the case. Such is the apathy even in the capital. There have been a series of extremely horrific attacks on women over the past few months and each is worse than the previous. Women and girls from schools, colleges and universities are out protesting, demanding security. Given the fact that a corrupt, criminal dynastic fascist regime is clinging to power in New Delhi we do not expect any change. The fact is that the political climate is so uncertain that criminals feel emboldened to commit crimes as they know that the Congress Party is there to protect them. All the serious cases hace happened only in Congress ruled states: New Delhi, Haryana and Rajastan. However isolated cases have been reported from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Munbai, another Congress ruled state. The governance is so bad that people have lost faith in the ability and the competence of the governments to enforce the law. There have been more than 600 cases of rape reported so far this year and this figure is nowhere close to the actual figure because rape is usually not reported due to the stigma associated with it. The worst and the most barbaric attack happened in New Delhi when a young woman and her fried were attacked and the girl raped onm a moving bus on the Outer Ring Road, New Delhi. The girl was gang raped and stabbed with beer bottles and iron rods and thrown out of the bus. The barbarity of this attack finally shocked the nation and the 6 residents of a slum in Delhi were arrested. The false veneer of political correctness has led the print and the electronic media to cover the crimes committed by the slum dwellers of New Delhi with a politically correct gloss. The barbarity of the most recent attack finally led to the exposure of the fact that most of the violent crimes were the handiwork of men living in the slums which surround the city. The requirement of registering these migrants and finger printing them is resisted by the fashionable liberal left whose daughters go the work and schools in cars and do not use public transport. The liberal left is high on rhetoric and low in actual concern for the underprivileged. Finally the message has sunk home. The politicians are not interested in undertaking any steps to bring about even a modicum of security. The MPs used the protests against rape aa an opportunity to be photographed and appear as if they are concerned. The fact is that the vast majority of Indian's MPs are actually criminals awaiting trail for violent crimes like murder, rape, rioting ect. I hope that the Indian people decide not to vote for criminals and f they send criminals to Parliament then their daughters are not safe. I hope the thick skulled Indians learn this lesson before it is too late. For the past 8 years we have seen unending corruption, mismanagement of Indian resources, unending acts of terrorism and now appalling acts of violence against women. The demand is now being made for the introduction of death sentence for rapists. The scandal is that the former President, a lawyer by profession and a woman one Prathiba Patil commuted the death sentence on 20 rapists who killed their victims. Such is the sad reality of the enforcement of law. It is difficult enough to secure conviction in Indian courts and this woman caomes along and commutes the sentence. What justice can one expect if a woman like Prathiba Patil is made President by a crimainal organization like the Congress.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE DREAMER; A BEAUTIFUL PRODUCTION, THE STUDY,KALAPET

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The season of joy is infectious. The birth of the Lord and Saviour brings forth the best in people. The clebration of the birth of Christ in The Study, Kalapet was done in a spectacular manner. The theme chosen was the stoy of Joseph who is sold into slavery by his brothers and with his inate talent of interpretting dreams he wins the confidence of the Pharoah and becomes the Chief Grain Officer of the Kingdom of Egypt. As is always the case with stories from the Old Testament, there is a twist in the tail. The brothers who solf Joseph into slavery come in search of food and in a magnificent gesture of reconciliation, Joseph forgives his brothers and is helped by him to overcome the s distress. Seven years of Plenty and seven of famine as predicted by Joseph was the fulfillment of the will of God. In the season of love, the story of Joseph sends the right message. The theme sketched above was enacted by the students of the Study, a school in Kalapet, Pondicherry. The School was established by the renowned heart surgeon Dr K M Cherian who was awarded a D Sc Honoris Causa by Pondicherry University in 2010 in recognition of the great work done in the field of surgery. He attended the function along with hisgrand daughter, Shirin. His message was a very inspiring one and I am sure that the students would have been inspired.The Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry UNiversity, Professor J A K Tareen and MRs Tareen attended the function. As always, Professor J A K Tareen gave a very gracious speech which touched everyone's heart. His presence added to the ocassion. The Principal sang an extremely difficult series of movements and she did a splendid job of it. I enjoyed the Dreamer and congratulate the school and its students for a job well come. A few visuals of the Dreamer:
The Welcome
The Dreamers: a Dance sequence.
A Song Serquence
The Trials of Joseph
A student with the Hon'ble Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry University and Mrs. Tareen.

Friday, November 30, 2012

AN Objective Assessment of Nehru" The Indian Ideology Reviewed

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books
Perry Anderson, the author of The Indian Ideology i8s a well known historian and the author of Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism and the Lineages of the Absolutist State. In this book reviewed in this blog, Perry Anderson has raised questions which Indian historians writing history in nthe service of the nation state have failed to ask. Worse anyone even attempting a critical analysis of the Nehruvian Era is dismissed as a "communal" historian,a label which makes serious historiography well neigh impossible. The result is that modern Indian historiography is dominated by myths which are repeated without the slightest fear of being exposed as myths. The political trauma of 1947 created not one but two identity based states and while Pakistan is content with its status as an Islamic confessional state, India under Nehru has pretended to be a "secular" state and as Perry Anderson has shown the Congress even at the height of its popularity in the 1930s did not attract more than 3% of its membership from the Muslim community. The conceit of the Congress Party that it represented the entire nation made the party reluctant to seek accommodation with the Muslim League and contri8buted to the process of India getting fragmented. In Indian historiography this episode is usually painted as the wily Jinnah manipulating the Viceroy behind the backs of the Congress leadership when most of them were in Jail. The truth lies as Perry Anderson points out in the arrogance of the Congress leadership which refused to compromise with the League even when Jinnah showed a keen desire to engage with the Congress. The second point that Perry Anderson makes which deserves serious consideration is the fact that the Elections held under the 1935 Government of India Act the Congress did not win even a single Muslim seat. And when the Congress leadership decided to quit office in 1939 after the declaration of war, the field was open for the league to interact with the Muslim masses and further its ends. Rather than blaming the League, the politics of the Congress needs to be reassessed. Another myth exposed by Perry Anderson which stands modern Indian historiography on its head is the acknowledgement that the Congress pursued a communal agenda and the violence directed against Muslims during Partition emanated from Congress men rather than the favorite whipping boy of the liberals, the RSS. Given the fact that the Congress was responsible for the biggest massacre of post Independent India when thugs of the Congress Party killed more than 15,0000 Sikhs in north India and successive Congress regimes have abetted in the crime by ensuring that the perpetrators are not brought to justice, the analysis of Perry Anderson is certainly close to the truth. The historians maintained by the state lie Bipan Chandra and S Gopal do not seem to understand that the very dynamics of the movement led by the Congress contributed to the violence of Partition. Perry Anderson's analysis of the Nehruvian era from 1947 to 1964 is not only accurate but is also a sophisticated study of Nehru's methods of statecraft. As Anderson points out Nehru did not run a Government, he presided over a Court with fourth rate individuals like Krishna Menon, O Mathai, B M Kaul etc. The result was the political disaster in 1962 when India was soundly defeated by China. Anderson rightly points out that the McMohan Line which Nehru took as sacrosanct was the result of British chicanery and China showed every willingness to negotiate. But given the arrogance inherent in the Nehruvian vision of India, there was no place for negotiation or diplomacy: Throw the Chinese out was the motto of the so called forward policy which led to disaster. In suppressing the Revolt of the Nagas after Independence, Nehru permitted his Army, armed with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to indulge in extra legal killings and human rights abuses on a monumental scale and the result is there form all to see. And in Kashmir also the same policy of using a local collaborator, Sheikh Abdullah and then discard him when he began to take Plebiscite promised by Nehru too seriously. Amd all this while quiety promoting his dynasty which still unfortunately is in power. The Indian Ideoly is a great book and all students of modern Indian history must read this book. Nehru was a giant with feet of clay and it is time Indians are told the truth about their recent past.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

THE GENERAL AND HIS MOLL: PETRAEUS HAS BEEN HONOURABLE

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and book The title that I have given may appear that I am scandalized at the news of the extra marital affair which made the highly decorated five star general resign his post at t the Congress Party protected him inspite of evidence of his sexualhe CIA. On the contrary, I see his public behavior through the lens of my experience here in India and I can say that by resigning his position and publically acknowledging his liason with Ms Paula Broadwell, General Petraeus has shown that he has that little detail called character. So let me get this out of the way. This is not a blog about the hypocritical behaviour of Americans and their easy virutes. In fact, this incident actually makes people think about the seriousness with which the American establishment took this particular act of indiscretion. In India we have politicians who are caught in every kind of scandla and with their peckers in several different situations. That Congressman, Abhishek Manu Singvi was caught with his pant down with a woman who was giving him his Clinton moment and no action was taken against him and he is doing the rounds as the Congress spokesman. The brazenness with which the entire scandal was pushed aside and the manner in which thr Congress Party protected him speaks of the uncivilised nature of Indian politics and society. It is clear that such acts will not go unpunished in USA and rightly so. Then we have the N D Tewari case in which his natural son had to go the Court to obtain a legal injunction to get DNA sample in order to establish his biological father. There have been credible reports of Jawaharlal Nehru ingulging in several scandalous affairs without any fear of public exposure and humiliation. In the USA it is clear that public officials are expected to uphols certain values and they cannot escape the consequences of their action by saying that the scandals pertained to their private life. I think India can learn a lesson from this episode. Now to the General and his moll. From what I gather from the newspapers Ms Paula Broadwell entered General Petraeus' life in the form of a biographer asnd she has penned a biography that almost verges on hagiography. As a biographer she seems to have had unlimited access to the general (pun not intended). Her husband seems to have discovered the affair with the general and unlike most husbands who would be furious this man wrote a letter to the agony column of the New York Times wherein he states very baldly that an important executive of the American Government is having a physical relationship with his wife and he asked for advice. Surprisingly, the FBI got wind of the affair and confronted the general about it. Can this happen in India, Here the CBI lies, cheats, fabricates and hides evidence in order yoprotect the criminals who are at the helm of affairs in India, particularly under the Congress Party. What a contrast to the situation in the USA. Rather than feeling that the USA has shown itself to be moral calamity, this incident actually reinforces the notion that there are objective vlues in public life even in these difficult post modern times. The General did not deny the charge and gracefully resigned. Now comes the more difficult question. Did anyone bother about the fate of Ms Paula Broadwell. Is she also destined to the notoriety to which that characterless man called Bill Clinton consigned a far younger woman fifteen years back.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CABINET RESHUFFLE AND THE FARCE OF GOVERNANCE IN INDIA

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The cabinet reshuffle that was announced this morning reminds me of the famous line that a hopeless and desperate measure can be compared with rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic. The Congress party over the past 10 years has presided over scandals of monumental proportions and in spite of Parliamentary inquiries nothing tangible has emerged. The Joint Parliamentary Committee which was to probe the 2G Spectrum Scandal was stymied right from the start by the recalcitrant attitude of the Congress party and this faced the main opposition party to quit the panel. The Coal Allocation Scandal has cost the national exchequer more the 6 billion US dollars and there is no visible sign of the scandal going away soon. To make matters worse, the Son in law of Sonia Gandhi seems to have built a real estate empire using funds from sources which are clearly illegal and dubious. Against this backdrop, the chances of the Congress doing well in the 2014 General Election are rather slim. However, the BJP is caught in its own internecine factional squabbles and this has left the party weak and in disarray. Except in Gujarat where the Party can boast of good governance, the BJP ruled states are all mired in corruption and mal administration with Karnataka being the most egregious example. Now ManMohan Singh has reshuffled his pack and as we know from history, the Prime Minister even in a coalition government has the choice of whom to appoint in his hand. In India since the Prime Minister is a nominee of the Dynasty, he enjoys no such constitutional freedom. He took orders from the Dynasty's Crown Price--Rahul Gandhi-- and all changes were made according to the whims and wishes of the Crown Price. So much for Democracy. Dynastic Fascism has reached such a level that even the pretense of constitutional propriety has been given up. The Newspapers were full of Reports to the effect that Rahul "thought" that such and such a person was to be inducted and such and such a person was to be shown the door. The net result being an elaborate exercise in futility. The fact that a corporate house, Reliance which is an important multi national company in the OIl and Petroleum Sector has succeeded in getting rid of Jaipal Reddy who was relieved of the portfolio< Oil and Natural Gas". The Supreme Court has also given its verdict against Reliance and yet the Governmant chooses to dismiss a minister rather than enforce rule of law. and there is also the mysterious matter of the death of Rajasekar Reddy who also incurred the wrath of this Company. I think Man Mohan Singh has sent out a wrong political message. Ministers involved in scams have been retained. Salman Kurshisd who is involved in a public spat with Kejriwal has been promoted and given a more important portfolio. Maken the Sports Minister at the time of the Common Wealth Games which were mired in financial scandals has been given the status of a Cabinet Minister. I think all those who deserved to be sacked have been rewarded and instead of helping to improve the image of the Government, this reshuffle will only strengthen peoples' opinion that it should go. or as Oliver Cromwell said, Go. In God's name Go.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

india's china war; 50 years on an assessment

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books
Fifty years ago, almost to date Jawaharlal Nehru led India to a military diasater whose effects are still felt today. For a month from October 18th 1962 till the middle of November the troops of the Peoples Libaration Army, China punded India into defeat and inexplicably retreated back to their positions, beyond the MacMohan Line. The military defeat of India has been studied in the Henderson Brooks Report which fo9r some reason has not been made public. However, facts have emerged in recent years which clearly show that it was Jawarharlal Nehru and his then defense minister Krishna Menon who were primarily responsible for the disaster. 1962 lives in popular imagination, but the ghost of that stunning defeat have not been exorcized. The great Athenian historian, Thucydides wrote in his History of then Peloponesian War the states go to war because of (1) honour, (2) fear and (3) interest. This triad of motives still forms the basis on which inter state conflict can be studied. China and India have had two thousand years of peaceful coexistence which Nehru in his misbegotten ambition to overawe China and its revolutionary leadership almost destroyed. The two sectors in which India and China had serious disputes was the Aksai Chin Sector and the Twang Sector. In both these sectors the Chinese leadership indicated a willingness to negotiate, but it was the intransigence of Nehru and his factotum, Krishna Menon, which came in the way. The fact is that the alignments on the MacMohan Line pertaining to these two sectors were drawn up at a time when China was already been defeated in the Opium Wars and after the Western intervention following the Taiping Rebellion and more damagingly the surveys were undertaken after the Boxer Rebellion, particularly in the Ladak region adjoining the Aksai Chin. The British era maps as A G Noorani has shown in his book India-China Boundary Problem: History and Diplomacy were very faulty and often showed Indian claims as lying in China and Chinese claims as falling on the Indian side of the Line. As Lord Curzon and following him many have remarked that frontiers do not become boundaries. China was able to negotiate successfully with all the seven countries with which it had serious territorial disputes and there are questions only with regard to the Sino_Indian frontier. This fact clearly demonstrates that the Indian leadership was at fault. Instead of negotiating with Chou en Lai who repeatedly called on Nehru, the then Prime Minister and his Defense Minister" Krishnamenon advocated what they called a Forward Policy. The Indian Army was not in favor of the forward policy as they knew that the lay of the land favoured the Chinese and that the Indian Army did not have the means to tackle the Chinese. Without any preparation or even a strategy the political leadership forced the Indian Army to fight a battle/ war it knew it could not fight. The result was absolute chaos. China cannot be blamed for the failure of the Indian political leadership. The issue of the unresolved Boundary Dispute got further entangled by Indian involvement. much against Indian national interest in the Tibetan Issue. Anyone who knows the history of China will say that Tibet had always beenn a part of China. From the late nineteenth century, and more specifically from the time of Lord Curzon the Indian Government tried to make Tibet a client state by detaching it the suzerainty of China and almost succeeded. China which was very sensitive to the "unequal treaties" repudiated these agreements and India being an Asian country which had got freedom from colonialism must have encouraged China to assert its rights. Nehru unfortunately chose to uphold the colonial legacy and that mind set resulted in tension over the issue of Tibet. China was driven to war by the wrong and contradictory polcies of the Indian Government as articulated by Jawarharlal Nehru.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

AAM ADMI to MANGO PEOPLE: ROBERT VADRA AND HIS LANGUAGE OF CONTEMPT

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books On his facebook, Shri Robert Vadra, Soni-ji's damad had talked about India being a banana republic of mango people. The mango people that Shri Vadra refers to is of course the subversive reference to the very slogan under which his Mother in Law fought the election: AAM ADMI KA HAATH CONGRESS KE SAAT. It is a story as old as the hills that those who enjoy wealth and luxury without straining themselves have contempt for those who earn their honest bread and keep. The "Msngo People" of India may be stupid for having voted the Congress but they are by and large hardworking and decent, something that cannot be said of the average Congressman. Vadra, a small time operator from Maradabad made it to the big league of movers and shakers by virtue of his marriage or put it more crudely by being the damad of the dynasty in power. Having got political power he wants to enjoy it like the Bourbons of France after the Restoration in 1815. His reference to Indians as "mango people" does not smack of elitism because Vadra knows that his background is anything but elitist. He has neither education nor the skills required to make him earn an honest livelihood,and his entry in politics during the last Assembly Elections backfired and was the main cause for the miserable failure of the Congress party. India does not have a hereditary aristocracy and the likes of Vadra with political clout along with the Rahuls, the Vikas. the Akileshes, the Marans and the Karunanidhis become the aristocracy of power. They perform an important role: they translate political power into money and wealth. The main reason why corruption has increased many time over is because of dynastic fascism of the sort favoured by the Congress and mindlessly of the so called "secular" parties. Only the Communist factions and the BJP are not touched by this tendency. In fact Patrick French inhis recent book has shown that the vast majority of the MPs in the current Lok Sabha are sons, daughters and grandchildren of politicians. In other words the pool of talent from which politicians are recruited is decided in the bed room and that is the reason for the phenomenal increase in corruption. Dynastic politics breeds monumental corruption and the recent spate of scams is proof of this statement. The other fruit that figures in Vadra's eloquent comment is Banana.The term banana republic came into being when the great pioneers of human rights and democracy,USA, started intervening militarily in the affairs of South American counties in order to safe guard the interests of the UNited Fruit Comapny. They routinely intervened in the internal affairs of Latin and South American countries and got rid of the authoritarian leaders whom they had propped up in the first place and replaced them with men of their own choice who they felt would do the bidding of the UFC. These kleptocracies were all tied to US banking and financial interests and so the term banana republic came to represent the corruption and filth spewed by US backed regimes. India has already become a banana repulic as there is a total break down of law and order and the only hope that remains is the judicial intervention. The Coal Gate Scam and 2G Spectrum Scasm both are symtomatic of crony capitalism of the worst kind. And why not Vadra. He gets a loan without interest from DLF to buy its own property ans such sweetheart deals are possible only in BANANA REPUBLICS WITH MANGO PEOPLE.

Monday, October 1, 2012

E J HOBSBAWM: A TRIBUTE TO A HISTORIAN

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Writing History is not easy and to write the histories that endure is one of the most difficult intellectual tasks and E J Hobsbawm who dies in England yesterday epitomised this truth to the fullest extent. Along with Rodney Hilton, Christopher Hill and a handful of young activists of the British Communist Party, E J Hobsnawm was the founder of the Past&Present Society, a historical forum which pioneered the use of Marxist and Marxian method to the study of the past. EJ Howsbawm was also a rigorous advocate of the theoretical mode of apprehending the past which rejected the naive narrative of political and military events as the backbone of Historiography. The rise of the Nation State in the nineteenth century made it necessary for the newly emerged nations to seek legitimacy for their existence in the past and following the German historian Ranke, the professional historians rallied around the war cry of nationalism. The Marxist historians avoided the allure of nationalism, but fell to the seductive charms of the Communist World Revolution. E J Hobsbawm was an early adherent of this ideological label as he himself says in his extremely lucid autobiography. Hobsbawm can be called a social historian in the most complete sense of the term because he believed that events in history can only be explained when they are placed in the context of society in which the events are rooted. He is however not a blind follower of the economic deterministic model for explaining the past. Individuals act out of choice not necessity,but their choice is largely structured by circumstances transmitted through time. His best work in which this method of social history is worked out is his study of Bandits. This elegant work along with its companion volume, Primitive Rebels tries to explain social banditry in terms of a society which was transforming itself from an agrarian or peasant society to one in which commerce and industry were becoming increasingly salient. In Labouring Men, Hobsbawm tried to unravel the culture of the English working class as it was changing from an artisanal class to a work force in the newly industriaslizing parts of England even as it was reeling from the after effects of the enclosure movement. Hobsbawm historiography was rooted in the joyous optimism which as he is not tired of pointing out was inherited from his Jewish mother. There is a purpose to human existence and it is the historian's sacred duty to document the richness and clour inherent of man's struggle for survival. This meaning which the study of history imparts has been virtually thrown away by a whole generation oh historians who marched under the banner of post colonialism and literary perspectives. By diminishing history and making Historiography a variant of "discourse" and a discourse inflected with power in the Saidian sense, history stood impoverished and it was left to E J Hobsbawm to soldier on tirelessly against the demons of deconstruction and relativism. The death of E J Hobsbawm is a tragic loss to the world of History and this blogger not a Marxist but a historian, pay my tribute to a great historian whose work will continue to inspire generations of men and women who believe that human life has meaning and History is the only means available to record it,

Friday, September 21, 2012

MULAYAM SINGH YADAVA, MAYAWAT, MAMTHA BANERJEE AND THE CIRCUS OF INDIAN POLITICS

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and bOOKS. In Casablanca, the classic film of the 1940,s there is a famous line: One in one out, thats the way it goes. This line is equally true of Indian politics; One out, Mata, one in, Mulayam. This merry go round will continue until the next election which are scheduled to be held in 2014. Unfortunately opportunistic alliances of sheer convenience whose only purpose is to cling on to power at all cost is legitimized using the "secular" card. It does not take too much imagination to realize that the most corrupt and obsessively dynasty based are the so called secular parties. The DMK is neck deep in the 2G Spectrum scam and the old bandicoots daughter too was in jail for nearly a year, Laloo Prasad Yadava is caught in the Fodder Scam and though the witnesses are being killed systematically the case is still alive, Mulayam Singh Yadava if facing a disproportionate assets case and since the CBI is a coalition partner of the UPA, the case is weakening or strengthening based on the politics of the Yadava chieftain and there is no need to even mention Mayawati with her diamond nose rings and flashy salwars with bags in tow.With such specimens in the political field the UPA will not run out of partners who will suddenly discover the virtue of "secularism" in order to hide their sins. There is however, one snag in the calculations of the UPA and its potential partners in crime and power. All these parties are directly in competition with the Congress for the same political space and the more they support the Congress the more they will have to face the responsibility for the scams, scandals and corruption. It will also have to bear the backlash and it is inevitable for the FDI in the retail sector which will dominate the next elections more than any other issue. The Congress will be able to dilute peoples anger by pointing fingers at their partners, and therefore it is not in the interest of these parties to throw a life line to the Congress. Of all the regional players only Mamtha Banerjee has understood the inherent logic of the emerging political scene. The Congress Party is heading for a total disaster in the coming elections and with the revival of the Left in West Bengal, Mamtha had few options left. She pulled the rug from underneath the feet of the UPA hoping to create a crisis and she has succeeded eminently. The options before Mulayam and Mayawati are rather slim. THe next elections both these parties will not be able to retain their seats and they also have to take responsibility for all the sins of the dynastic fascist party, the Congress. Without understanding this basic issue both these parties are falling over eachother to extend support.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Aseem Trivedi Cartoons: An Essay

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Indian politicians are getting touch and sensitive about cartoons. I think when a political order is in a state of absolute free fall, the decaying order becomes hypersensitive to the caricature in cartoons. The MPs and MLAs now know that the citizens of India are filled with contempt and anger for the egregious plunder they have indulged in over the years. Actually more tham corruption which is there in all political systems, it is the politicians like Laloo Prasad Yadave and D P Yadava, Jagdish Tytler and other such criminals who masquerade as "peoples" representatives which stokes the anger of peo on his carple. P Chidambaram, the Finance Minister, was defeated in the Sivagnagai Parliamentary Constituency but goes arpound with the emblem of the Republic emblazoned on his car. Rightly there is anger because the Constitution of India does not envisage a Kletocratic state. Dr B R Ambedkar and his team worked out a Constitution which would be the basis of a civilized political order underpinned by Rule of Law. We now have the rule of outlaws and some of them like Poolan Devi even were elected to parliament and I am sure that Tamil Badu would have elected Veerapan, had he not been encountered. Now the Cartoons. I have shown them with this blog not because the cartoon are of a high artistic value but because they succeeded eminently in doing what Shri Aseem Trivedi set out to do: provoke anger and contempt. There is nothing remotely seditious about the cartoons and to invoke the outdated Anti Sedition Law is outrageous. The arrest and imprisonment of Shri Trivedi only shows that the corrupt political class is hitting back using the instruments of the state and when this happens we know that the end is in sight. A discredited political order tottering at the weight of its own monstrous inequities is struggling to regain the ground that is slipping from under its feet and in this I do not see any difference between the Congress and the BJP. I was surprised at the response of both Kiran Bedi and Arvind Khejriwal who in an oblique manner justified the arrest and imprisonment of Shrri Asseem Trivedi. I see this issue as one that frames an informed citizen's right to critique the politics of his land. He has not offended any religious or identity group and his depictions are not scandalous. I have a complaint. I personally dislike the use of animals as symbols of evil. In ome of the cartoons the lions of the Republic are replaced by jackals. I like Juno the Jackal of Karadi Tales and I made him the hero of a whole series of stories on which my daughter grew up and I strongly condemn the use of the animal is this disgusting way. The lions could have easily been replaced by a Gandhi topi wearing kletocrat and it would have been OK. Otherwise these cartoons do make a powerful impact on the viewer. I appeal to the authorities through my Blog to release Shri Trivedi,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

THE COAL SCAM AND THE SCANDAL OF GOVERNANCE IN INDIA

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The 2 G Spectrum scan is still hanging like a cloud around the Congress led UPA Government and it has already claimed the heads of 2 central minister--Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja--both of whom belonged to a regional political party, the DMK. In Indian politics there is no such thing as a single author scam. It is very obvious that the highest summits of the political system which includes Sonia Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh had a hand in the scam but were clever enough to ensure that lesser mortal took the rap for it. Th coal scam is almost identical in its modus operandi, and the Congress Government is trying its best to wriggles out of the ever tightening noose around its neck. With 2 scandals with a net loss of nearly 20% of the GDP of the country, there will be a lot of froth flying thick everywhere. The problem with the UPA Government like the Bourbons of France is that they forget nothing and they learn nothing. From the 2 G Spectrum Scandal they must have learn that the auction route is the best way of allocating scare resources and ensure a hefty return to the state exchequer. However since political gratification is the objective, the UPA allocated 57 coal blocks in an arbitrary and non transparent. In the 2G Specrum Scam, A Raja could be sent to jail as he was a minister from a regional party and a dalit to boot. In the case of the Coal Scam the ministry was headed by the Prime Minister himself who retained the ministry under his direct charge. Now that the scandal has surfaced the Congress Party is trying its best to protect the Prime Minister and others who were involved in the decision making process. India has large reserves of coal and the state exchequer would have got nearly 15 billion US dollars had the auction route been taken. Instead prime coal mines were allocated to private parties which included Tata Power, Tata Steel,Essar Power Generation,Jindal Steel and many other power generating companies or steel plants. The criteria on which this allocation was made has not been spelled out. In the case of the 2 G Spectrum at least there was a fig leaf of objectivity in that the allocation was done on the basis of the first come first served basis. Even this lame defence is not available for the coal scam. As per the norms and procedure of the Government of India, the file for such major decisions has to be signed by the cabinet minister and only then it becomes operational. In the case of the Coal Scam the files were all signed by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Coal Minister and hence he cannot now evade responsibility or accountability. The mines which were allotted to private parties are the most lucrative ones since they are all open mines and do not require too heavy an investment in infrastructure. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in his Report submitted to Parliament has clearly stated that gross irregularities in procedure had taken plce causing a net loss of 1.86 lakh crores ruppees to the treasury of the people of INdia. The kind of Governance we have in India under the uPA aims at enriching the private players at the cost of the Government and obviously huge kick backs play a role in the formulation of such skewered policies. The principle opposition party the BJP has raised the issue in the highest democratic forum of the country, the LOK SABHA. Instead of answering the questions raised, the Prime Minster is indulg ing in cheap gimmicks when he stated in his defence that this was done to favor the opposition ruled states. It is only an accident that the coal rich states are presently under the BJP and the Congress is not known to have concern for anyone or institution except its "royal" dynasty. The coal ministry bureaucrats suggested public auction as the best method for pricing the coal blocks but it was blocked by the Prime Minster, just as was done in the case of the 2G Spectrum pricing. The effort now currently underway to amde the NDA responsible for the policy is untenable because the policy change was initiated only after the UPA GOvernment was formed in 2004. The Scandals which have undermined the present government will have their impact in the next election. The anti corruption movement led by Baba Ramdev is likely to create enough impact to tilt the balance in favor of the bJP in the next election. The 2014 elections can only be lost by the BJP due to political mismanagement and factionalism.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

WHEN IS A GOVERNMENT ILLEGITIMATE: L K ADVANI SPOKE FOR ALL OF US

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Parliamentary Democracy is predicated upon a very delicate balance between public perception and the illusion of permanent power. Since the tenure of a President is fixed for a certain period of time by the Constitution, there cannot be too many question marks over the legitimacy of a President. This is not the case in a Parliamentary form of Government and more so in the case of India where the fist past the winning post system is in place. In the electoral battlefield, candidate resort to violence, intimidation,bribery, impersonation and other mal practices are employed in spite of the best efforts of the Election Commission. Ultimately candidates sit in the LOK SABHA with less than 15% of the valid votes polled. In the case of Mr P Chidambaram, the present Finance Minister of the Government of India, he was actually defeated and got the certificate of election by fraud and in all probability his election will be struck down. The legitimacy of the parliamentary process is already in doubt and so there is no harm in speaking of "illegitimacy" of the Government. In the Lok Sabha debate on the violence in Assam, Shri L K Advani a stems frosenior leader of the Opposition referred to the UPA-II as an "illegitimate government" and the sustained outrage of the Congress benches aided and instigated by Sonia Gandhi led to Advani withdrawing the remarks. While it was gracious of Shri L K Advani to withdraw the remarks, I would like to ask if his remarks were actually true and if there is truth in his remark why did he withdraw the remark. I think Shri L K Advani is making noises which may get his headlines but he is not helping in the gigantic task of getting rid of the two headed hydra--Sonia and Singh--who are ruling the country. The increase in the level of terrorism in India itself raises doubts the ability of the two headed hydra to govern. The ruthless Mumbai Attack of 26th November 2009 took place during the watch of the present government and India has made no progress in getting cooperation from Pakistan. Though Kasaab has been sentenced to death, a soft state like India is unlikely to have the political will to carry out the sentence. The Government has had no success in controlling domestic terrorism. Naxalite violence has only increased and CRPF soldiers are being killed by the dozens. In Dantewada incident alone 80 soldiers were killed. The main reason for the doubts on the legitimcy of the Government stems from the large scale corruption indulged in by the present regime. In the allocation of spectrun scandal, popularly known as the 2G scandal more than 8 to 10 billion US dollars were lost to the country and to make matters worse a senior minister Kapil Sibal even justified the loss saying that it was a zero loss to government.THis matter is pending before the Supreme Court of INdia. In the allocation of coal blocks for mining huge bribe were paid and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has documented the loss to the exchequer. Then there are a host of smaller scams like the Adrash Scandal. The involvement of Congress politicians in serious crimes is another cause for concern. And the dynstic obsession of the Congress party which projects the higly inexperience and volatile Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister of India raise question about the legitimacy of the regime in power. L K Advani was certainly right in condemning the regime as illegitimate.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ethnic violence in India: assam, Bodos, Bangladesh Muslims and thge Indian State

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Ethnic violence on a large scale has broken out in the North Eastern state of Assam, India. This state has witnessed frequent outbreaks of violence between indigenous tribal groups, the Bodos on the one hand and migrants from Bangla desh, Bengali Muslims on the other. The stast government which is controlled by the Congress Party which also is the dominant faction in the UPA, the coalition in power, has abetted in the illegal settlement of Bangla Deshis in the bordering districts, particularly Khokrajar District, as the Muslims tend to vote for the Congress Party. By playing on the fears of the illegal migrants and by pandering to identity politics of the worst kind the Congress has been able to remain in power. Tarun Gogoi, the presnt Chief Minister, was recently reelected to power. The indigenous tribal population is under increasing pressure and tribal lands are falling into the hands of the migrant population and Bodos feel threatened and vulnerable. The State Government is usually intervenes on the side of the migrant population. The border between India and Bangla Desh is extremely porous and large scale illegal immigration is taking place. The Central Government which signed an Accord with the All Assam Students Union which led an agitation against the illegal immigrants, some 20 years back, committed itself to the detection, deletion, and detention of illegal; immigrants from Bangla Desh. However, given the fact that India is a soft state, the Accord was not ever implemented and the situation has further escalated. The more militant among the Muslim migrants from Bangla Desh who receive arms and training from Pakistan have begun a campaign of terror against the Bodos. This is not to say that the Bodos are a peaceable lot. However, the Bodos are being symptomatically attacked and driven from their land and consequently more than 250,000 Bodos have been displaced from their villages and are living in refugee camps. Over the past 3 to 4 weeks a silent tragedy has been unfo9lding in Assam. Bodos are being evicted from their settlements and the Central Government is both unable and unwilling to do anything about it. The State Government as I said earlier is alo9s under the Congress and the Party relies on the votes of the illegal migrants and hence the state government is also quiet. Ethnic cleansing over large swathes of Bodo land has been taking place over the past 40 to 50 years and now the Bodos living in the very heartland of Bodoland, Khokrajar District, are being terrorized. Post Colonial states as V S Naipaul keeps reminding us ever so often are half made societies and are tethering on the brink of chaos. I think the people of Assam are paying dearly for their foolishness in voting the Congress Party to power ans Assam now is awash in blood and only the Congress is responsible for the violence and bloodshed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

LYNDOH COMMISSION AND ELECTIONS TO STUDENT COUNCILS IN INDIA UNIVERSITIES

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The Supreme Court has asked Indian Univesities to conduct elections for student unions in all universities by the 31st of August. The Lyndoh Commission Report has been takern as the foundational text for the conduct of the elections. This move on the part of the Suprme Court is a retrogate step and needs to be contested. Politics in India is not only criminalised but depends to a large extent on money power. Though a limit of Rs 5,000 has been set for the election expenses, I am sure that each candidaste will spend a few hundred times thast amount. Political parties will now claw their way into the portals of Indian universities and that will affect the academic culture of the institution. Political parties bring with them decripit ideologies. I can imagine SFI goons behaving as if they own the Campus intimidating everryone who disagrees with them. I think it will be ablack day for Indian universities when elections are conducted. The Lyndoh Commission has also spelled out the modalities of holding the election: direct election or indirect election. Obviously indirect elections are better because to a certain extent it circumscribes the legitimacy of the student leaderrship. In the University where I teach the Vice Chancellor, an extremely able and talented administrator and a noted geophysicist, decided to have 50% reservation for women. Our University is therefore more propressive than even the Indian Parliament which has not passd the Women's Reservation Bill. Of course women will be easier to handle than men and will not take to the streets at the drop of the proverbial hat. Indirect election also provides ways and means to check the reclacitrant elements among the student community. The deadline set by the Supreme Court expires on the 31st of August and the elections are to be held before that date. The more political among the Faculty are pressing for Propotional representation on the ground that the Schools with more students should have more representatives on the student Council. Perhaps these worthies are unaware that in the US Constitution each state has only 2 members and the rationale for that is to avoid the tyranny of the brute majority. And like in the Mandal castes, the propotional representation cvan be easily manipulated. In spite of my fervent appeal not to admit propotional representation, the Vice Chancellor thought that it was "democratic". Since the ration between the number of elected representative vis a vis the total population of the electorate will fluctuate on the basis of student intake, propotional representation is inhertently undemocratic and like in the Indian case open to misuse. The invasion of the political parties in a most unwholsesome step and the Supreme Court has taken a giant step backward without quite understanding the ground realities. This will increas campus violence and the learning atmosphere will be affected.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

INDIAN TECHIE TURNS GIRL KILLER IN THE US; THE PAWAN KUMAR EPISODE

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and booksThe Indian outsourcing Industry has already become a hot subject of debate in the American presidential elections. Obama keeps screaming that the Indians are taking away jobs from Americans and US comapnies are getting tax breaks for shipping "jobs" overseas. I do not know whether there is truth in this argument but I do know that the Indian "soft ware" industry is becoming too intense a space for some of the young people from backward social and economic classes to handle. Let me explain. Companies like the famous INFOSYS, Cognizant, TCS among others are all doing bit jobs for the US service sector; and ofcourse it earns India nearly 169 billion US dollars every year. Young Indians straight out of college, most of them first generation educated from small towns study courses tailor msde for this sector: in Indian Universities we offer courses like MCA (Masters in Computer Applications) MS in Information Technology and B Tech Electrical and Electronic Engeneering. All these courses are all body shop courses tailor made to qualify young Indians to work in the only growth sector in the indian economy viz. the service sector more specifically the soft ware sector. The young men and women who enter the job market find themselves in secure jobs and they earn by Indian standards lots of money:cars, fast track life, pubs, night life are all part and parcel of the social life of a young Indian. In conservative India where marriages are still "arranged" with parents consent, the soft ware professionals are pioneers in "living together" and recently ther Domestic Violence Bill was amended by the indian parliament to ensure a semblance of legality to such live in relationships should they fracture and end in domestic abuse and violence. I am saying all this to drive home the argument that the ready and steady cash together with the target oriented stressed filled lives has resulted in "soft ware' professionals both men and women taking drugs and alcholol as stress busters. Add to this is the attraction of foreigh travel and assignments. In my younger days we could dream of seeing the USA only if we went there for the Ph D program as I did. Nowadays "software" professionals travel quite easily to several locations during the course of the year. Stressed work atmosphere, fairly comfortable disposable income, limited education (by education I do not mean a degree from self financing institutions) and first generation up ward mobility particularly from ths SC segment of the Indian population and the Backward sections has resulted in creating a personality which is driven vy violence. Software professionals kill in the most brutal and calculaterd manner. An employee of INFOSYS killed his wife when she was expecting thieir first child, another killed his wife and hid her body in a freezer for nearly 7 months another drove his car to the outskrits of Mysore and tried to burn his wifes body in the car itself. Such examples can be multipled. Young semi-literate Indian men possessing MCA and such technical qualifications fill the high tech cubicles of the soft ware segment. From this benighted class we have one particular individual: Pawan Kumar Anjaiah an employee of Cognizant one of the several bodyshops of the Indian software industry. He was sent to New Jersey in March 2012 from Bangalore, Karnataka. Yes the very palce that gave a new verb to American English "banglored" meaning losing ther job because of out sourcing. This young man seems to have come from the typical lower middle class which is upwardly mobile has the right caste credentials to get Education loans, bank guarntees and socially engineered admission to Engeneering Colleges. This man men a young American woman Danielle Melhalm who was a teacher in a schooland thr mother of a 4 year old boy. Apparently he was either infactuated with her or caught the wrong signals from this man. Pawan Kumar took her to a motel in Delaware and killed her in the most brutal manner. Hert bbody bearing more than 30 stab injuries. This man bought s lsrge meat cleaver from the local department store in the morning which clearly proves his intention to kill. He took her to the motel killed her and fled. The CCTV both in the Motel and in the Deparment Store caught his picture and soon the US law enorcement was on his trail. In India he would have called up a politicallyn powerful MP from his OBC caste and thr police would just ignore the crime. Probably he was used to this tradition of law enorcemnet. In anycase when he heard from the local Television channel that the police had traked him down he killed himself by consuming sleeping pills. This is the real story. The Indian media, as usual tried to black out the fact that Pawn was a criminal who had killed a woman. The media tried to make it appear as if an innocent Indian who had met an unfortunate death in the USA was being hounded by the authorities even after death. I am writing this blog to educate all my readers about the truth. My suggestions: US Embassy must do the background check on soft ware professionals. This particular boy has had a reputation of violence even in his college days. Comapnies sending their employees overseas must teach them the fundamentals of US culture. Americans interact in a different manner and semi-literate Indians might get the wrong cues.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PAKISTAN'S SUPREME COURT SETE A VERY BAD PRECEDENT

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Pakistan at best is a state trying to imitate the protocols of democracy with all the external trappings: it has a written constitution, a bi-cameral legislature, a senate, a cabinet and a supreme court. In the history of Pakistan the Judiciary has at best played a passive role and has not stood up to the Army which is breathing down the necks of people. During the 1970s we saw the ugly spectacle of Shri Zulfikar Ali Bhutto being sentenced to death and hanged on ther most flimsy of grounds. The Pakistani Judiciary was nand in glove with Zia-ul-Naq's regime and carried out a judicial assasination. Till this day there are doubts about the legality of the process and until the Supreme Court overturns the Bhutto judgement it cannot be called "supreme". President Asaf Ali Zardari, the beneficiary of his wife's brutal killing is known to be corrupt and like our criminal politicians has stashed away money in Swiss banks. There is no doubt about that. However as President of Pakistan he does enjoy immunity from procecution and this principle of immunity is a well known aspect of political and legal theory. In fact the history of this principle goes back to the English Civil War when Cromwell decided to have Charles I executed for treason, high crimes and misdemenours. "Cut off his head with the crown on it" Cromwell is said to have remarked when his attention was drawn to the "immunity" enjoyed by the Crown. Now thew Prime Minister of Pakistan is responsible to Parliament and not to the Supreme Court. The chief Justice of Pakistan, Iktihar Choudhary is no stranger to factional and institutional squabbles. The same PPP which today has fallen victim to the judicial coup of the chief Justice supported the agitation for ther reinstatement of this Judge when he was sacked by the former Presideny thr wise and sagacious Parvez Musharaf, the best Presideny Pakistan has ever had. Now the PPP must be rueing its own stupidity when it is hoist on its own petard. Of course, action must be taken to bring back the ill gotten wealth and Pakistan could learn a lesson or two from India. Here we have a Mahatma called Baba Ramdev who is inspiring the people to fight corruption. In Pakistan the mad mullahs who run the country will not let any civil society movement take root. So you will only have army coups, judicial coups and palace coups in Pakistan. The removal of the Prime Minister Yousaf Ali Gelani will certainly weaken the roots of an already withering Democracy. The USA is launching drone strikes by the dozens against targets in Pakistan killing a large number of militants and scores of civilians. This judicial coup will only make matters worse for the political class.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S PLAY STATION WAR

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books In most parts of the world children learn the alphabet by association letter A with "Apple" or something innocent. In parts of the world children learn the alphabet by reciting A is for AK-47 and D is for "Drone". USA has emerged as the world largest and most determined practitioner of "play station warfare" in which operators sitting in gaming consoles in Fairfax, Virginia, determine who should live and who should die in parts of the non-white world--particularly Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. While George W Bush started using drones to target al-Qaeda operatives, it was the present President Barack Obama who expanded the scope and intensity of drone attacks. Not a week passes without a drone attack and in each strike scores of civilians are killed and USA has no answer for the large scale destruction of human lives it is causing in parts of the non-White world. The rhetoric of Islamic Terrorism is sometimes deployed to obscure the fact that the victims of the drone attacks are non-white, non-combatants for the most part. Now there are people who argue that drone attacks are a variant of "targetted assasinations" and Israel is known to have used this method. In the case of Israel we can say that there are mitigating circumastances and even targetted assasinations are launched only after the identity of the chosen victim has been firmly identified. In the case of Israel there has been only one case of mistaken identity so far and Israel uses its field operatives to carry out the strikes. To the best of my knowledge Israel has not used drones though it drops bomb on Gaza whenever its airforce needs target practice. So I ma making out a distiction between targetted killings ordered by the State and massive, extensive and non discriminatory killing by drones. The US constitution does not empower its Commander-in-chief to order the killing of human beings on the presumption that they are "Islamic terrorists". In fact pre-emptive attack is explicitly outlawer by International law. So far nearly 3,000 persons have been killed by drone attacks and over 80% of the victims were civilain non combatants. USA has a term for such casualities" Collateral damage. USA has been less than honest in its public statements about the casualities of drone warfare. All males from 1 year to 100 years are counted as "terrorists" and by this ingenous calculation declares to the rest of the world that its drones have largely killed terrorists. In fact if USA kills terrorists by the truck load no one will complain, least of all this blogger. However, the vast majority of those killed happen to be combatnats. In fact, George W Bush was far more circumspect in his use of drones and he ordered during the course of 8 years less than a dozen strikes. Now Barack Obama has extended the definition of drone warfare to include suspicious pattern of activity. This expansion in the definition of the policy has resulted in several social gatherings being targetted. The mountain people of Waziristan and Afghanistan being a rumbustious lot often fire their weapons in the air as a sign ofsocial acceptance. This kind of exuberance has often led to the wedding celebrations being targetted. The result large scale death and a devastated society. And Barack Obama had critisised precisely the drone strikes of President Bush during his campaign and now it appears that Obama is Bush on steriods as David Miller observed. Drone warfare has extended the powers of the US president to each and every part of the world and no one is safe. The lack of accountability in the execution of drone warfare is another disturbing feature. A group of middle level NIA operatives prepare a list of potential targets and there is absolutely no Congressional or political scrutiny over the entire process. I request the US Congress to hold special hearings on Drone Warfare and let the Obama Administration explain to the American people the guidelines on the basis of which targets are delected and the political oversight, if any on the actual process of carrying out the attacks. The drone warfare has turned into a publicity bonanza for the al-qaeds and its affiliates because with each strike the number of potential recruits keeps rising.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

KOCHI, THE QUEEN OF THE ARABIAN SEA; MY HEART IS IN KOCHI

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books As our plane descended over Kochi, my daughter said "look Papa. solar panels everywhere. The people of Kochi must be energy conscious". I looked down and saw shimmering in the sunlight bright sheets of steel. Later we learned that the roofs of houses in Koch had a sheltered space for drying clothes during the long monsoon season which lasts nearly 4 months. The drive from the airport to Palavivattom where we stayed was thrilling, the road clean and the traffic manageable. We stayed in Hotel Rennai Cochin, a well maintained hotel will all modern amenities. Of all the cities that I have visited, I think Kochi is by far the most interesting and though my stay was short, I loved every minute of it. Cochin has a long history and everywhere the past creeps up and confronts the visitor. The island on which the port of Cochin stands was the creation of a natural disaster in the fourteenth century which reshaped the coastline of Kerala. The Portuguese were the first to arrive here and in 1661 were driven out by the Dutch who controlled the valuable spice trade of the Travancore kingdom for nearly 132 years. On January 8th 1663 the Dutch seized Fort Kochi and the Queen of the Arabian Sea had to compete with other suitors for the attention of the Dutch Administration. Batavia and Cape Town were prefereed by the Gentleman XVII of the VOC. In 1741 the Dutch were defeated in the Battle of Calachel and the English became the dominant power in the Malabar region, though the power of the English was contested by the rising garrison states of Travancore and Mysore. The prosperity of the town is reflected in the many Dutch buildings that festoon Fort Cochin. The "pepper highway" brought huge profits to the European companies creating problems for the Mappillas, the Malabar Muslim community, who slowly faced economic stagnation as a direct consequence of the monopoly over the pepper trade established by the Dutch, the Portuguese and finally by the English. The history of Cochin's encounter with the resurgent Europe is found everywhere, particularly in Fort Cochin and Bolghotty Island. We started our tour of Cochin with a visit to the Sacred Heart College, Thevara, in which I had some official work. The College is well maintained.
Cochin is famous all over the world for the small community of Jews who migrated to this port town to escape persecution during the frequent outbreaks of violence against them in Europe. India can be proud of the fact that when Europenas were killing Jews as recently as the German Holocaust in the 1940s, India protected and patronised the jewish population. Unfortunately the silly policies of Nehru di8d not enable India to develop good ties with Israel. The Jewish quarter is replete with history.
The shops alongside the Jewish Synagogue are full of interesting alcoves where one probably can get genuine antiques if one's pocket is deep enough. The churches of Cochin are a marvel. One of the oldest churches in Southern India is located in Cocin. The Santa Cruz Basilica which was constructed by the Portuguese is an architectural marvel.
The seascape around Kochi has now become nerve center of oil terminals, container docks, ship building platforms, naval yard and a score of other unlovely things. Yet the Arabian Sea around Kochi retains a grandeur that is best witnessed when one takes the boat ride around the harbor. Kochi has some incredibly beautiful spots and the area around the High Court is one such.
The beauty of the buildings, the historical sites of memory, the grandeur of the sea around Kochi will linger long after one has left this beautiful city. My daughter, her friend Divya and Sandesh visited an elephnat training camp and here are the pictures:
Like all good things in life our trip to Kochi too came to an end. We a heavy heart my daughter and I packed our bags and returned to Pondicherry. But we took back from Kochi memories that will live in our hearts forever. KOCHI YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF THE ARABIAN SEA

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kerala, Violence, Piracy and the past

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The killing of two fishermen by Italian marines on the High Seas has led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy. In spite of the Congress dominated UPA Government giving contradictory evidence, the judicial process is still on track. The recent killing of T P Chandrasekaran has brought home to large sections of the Indian public that God's Own Country is rife with violence and Kerala with the highest rate o9f suicide and literacy must reflect on its own past to understand the reality it faces. The so called Communist faction dominated politics has given the state a thin veneer of sophistication which is wearing thin every passing day. Kerala historians eager to please their party bosses create a history which ignores the reality of Kerala's past. Thus the very questioning of the senseless acts of violence indulged by the Mappillas of Malabar during their frequent outrages will be branded by the so called progressive historians of Kerala as a reactionary/communal interpretation. Indian historiography is still stuck in the prehistory or Jurassic park of polemic and abuse rather than seasoned discourse. I think al_beruni was absolutely right when he said that Indians do not have a sense of history. The killing of the two fishermen ought to provide a moment of reflection: Is the Malabar Coast piracy prone and what reputation does the coast of Malabar enjoy in existing historical sources. The Malabar region and the seas adjoining Calicut have the reputation of being the most pirate infested through out history. K N Panikkar and other Pannikkars following him do not want to admit that piracy was an important aspect of the Malabar economy through out history. Since Kerala did not have a highly developed Governmental institutions we can say that piracy operated in tandem with landed and merchant groups especially during the late medieval period when the price of pepper rose in the international market. Some even glirify piracy as resistance to the Portuguese naval power. During the so-called "Sangam Age" which is only a literary culture, Kerala is said to have had extensive trade with the rst of the world, particularly the Roman world. The Roman Empire had extended upto Egypt and Alexandria became an entrepot for Indian exports. Pliny the Elder whose statement about the gold being drained by India because of Roman thirst for luxuries from mthe Orient is known to every school boy, also lamented that Malabar was full of pirates. The records from the Cairo Geniza, the Jewish depository for paper containing the name of Jaw eh, has a document that record the plight of a Jewish trader who was robbed twice on the way to India and back. Both times he blames the pirates of Malabar. Marco Polo very eloquently records the presence of pirates in Malabar and cautions people from going there. From Maghreb, we have the famous Ibn Battuta who said that Malbari pirates were rife in the coastal region of Calicult where he landed. Ibn Battuta was attacked by 12 warships and the envoy to Vijayanagara from Moscovy, Nikitin also compalined of pirates in the seas around Calicut and Kochi. From the Portuguese period onwards we get the chronicles of Barbossa and Tompires which speak of pirates harassing the Portuguese shipping. Of course by this time Portugal had acquired virtual stranglehold on the pepper trade and the Mappilla traders were reduced in economic status as a consequence. It is in this set of changed circumstances that the statecraft of Zainuddin al Malbari must be viewed. He wanted a grand alliance of all India kings against Portugal. Instead of fabricating progressive history it would be far better if historians of kerala start looking at Piracy as a factor that shaped the social and economic life of people of Malabar.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Twenty Second Convocation of Pondicherry University

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books
Today the 22nd Convocation of Pondicherry University, a major central university of India, was held and as is always the case the event was choreographed to perfection. The University has seen a fantastic progress during the course of the past few years particularly during the administration of Professor J A K Tareen the current Vice Chancellor. I had to attend the Convocation in the usual academic robes and I most most impressed with the Convocation Address of Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, India's Ambassador to the United States. The D Litt (Honoris Causa) was conferred on two distinguished individuals:Justice M N Venkatachaliah and Her Excellency Nirupama Rao. Both have achieved a high degree of recongined stature in their respective field of endeavor. As Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachaliah was instrumental in shaping jurisprudence in a fundamental way and he also presided over the Commission set up to Review the Working of the Indian Constitution. He gave an erudite speech in which he effortlessly flitted from quantum physics to literature to history and he spoke of the convergence of different streams of science during the course of the present century which will enhance the life span of people. Her Excellency Nirupama Rao spoke with a clipped accent of one well trained in the corridors of power. Her Address was inspiring as my young daughter who attended the Convocation was most impressed with her speech. Being a serving Ambassador she could not touch on aspects of Indian foreign policy which are controversial. However, she did recognize the vital importance of maintaining friendly relations with China. I personally believe that India must do more to improve relations with China and must not make the blunder of coming under the influence of the USA which regards China as a threat. India can learn a great deal from China and I wish the speaker who was an envoy in China had spoken of this as well. The number of students in the University has increased 7 fold and this year 85 Ph D degrees were awarded and the picture captures one of then receiving her degree from Nirupama Rao.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

THE VIOLENCE IN GOD"S OWN COUNTRY: KERALA SEEME TO FORGET THAT PARTY POLITICS IS NOT ALL

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Shri T P Chandrasekharan, an activists of the CPM and a follower of V S Achutanandan, the former Chief Misister of Kerala was brutally killed near Calicut yesterday. The life and death of this 51 year old Party activist illustrates the perils of Indiasn political life. By all accounts this man was a committed party worker who joined the Student Federation of India and rose through the ranks. Extremely popular with grass roots workers, this activist had built up a following for himself in the Communist stronghol;d of Onchiyam. In the recent polls his Revolutionary Marxist Party won the Panchayat polls and this seems to have alarmed the faction led by Pinyari Vijayan. Even the Congress Home Minister of Kerala T Radhkrishnan has hinted at the involvement of the Pinyari Vijayan faction in the killing. The CPM and the Muslim League both practice the politics of violence in Kerala with great abandon. Who can ever forget the brutasl killing of Balkrishna, the schoolmaster who was killed in front of his students in the classroom about a decade back. The highly politisised nature of Kerala society has led to a situation in whcih political violence has become the tool for maintaining control over the cadres. The frequent hartals and strikes have given Kerala the reputation of being a state on the brink of anarchy. I cannot understand why politics cannot be conducted in a civilised manner in Kerala. I must say that Tamil Nadu too is given to violence. Shri T P Chnadrasekaaran was travelling on his two wheeler when 3 or 4 men armed with country bombs and sharp weapons waylaind him and hacked him to death. One more loyal party worker was sacrificed on the red altar and I am sure that within days there will be a retaliatory killing and the spiral of violence will spin out of control like what is happening in Rayalseema, Andhra Pradesh. Political parties like the Congress and the Communist factions and of course, the Muslim League which promote violence in the political realm must be banned from Inidan politics. League which promote criminalisation of politics and deploy litical Shri T P Chnadrasekaaran was travelling on his two wheeler when 3 or 4 men armed with country bombs and sharp weapons waylaind him and hacked him to death. One more loyal party worker was sacrificed on the red altar and I am sure that within days there will be a retaliatory killing and the spiral of violence will spin out of control like what is happening in Rayalseema, Andhra Pradesh.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bangaru Laxman was entrapped by Thelka and his conviction can be challenged

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Bangaru Laxman, the Dalit face of the BJP, was trapped by a Congress friendly mediam outfit called Thelka accepting cash to the tune of Rs 100,000 for favouring an entity called Westland. It turns out that there was no such defence deal and that ther whole episode caught on camera was only play acting. Corruptiuon as defined by the law involves giving a bribe to a public servant for obtaining tangible gains. When there was no deal and the reporters were only pretending to be defence contractors then no publiic interest was affected in the whole fictitious transaction. In fact if Bangaru Laxman can be convicted then the 2 journalists involved must also be proscecuted for induling in bribery of a public funtionary. I think the whole episode reeks of entrapment and Bangaru Laxman, though not innocent certainly cannot be called the only guilty party. It appears that the quantum of punishment was set high so as to deny him bail. I feel such vicious political proscecution will undermine peoples faith in the judiciary which must be seen to be above board. Now contrast this to the Bofors case. In that case, it has been established above any reasonable doubt that bibes were givnen in the form of " winding up charges' to the tune of 64 crores. It is known from investigation from Sweden, India, Switzerland and other parts of the world that the money trail led to Quatrrochi, an Italian known to be close to the resident non-Indian first Dynasty of India, the Gandhis. Yet, the CBI being a piable politicasl tool did not conduct any reasonable and sustained investigation so much so that after 25 years not a single conviction has taken place. Furtehr even in the 1984 anti Sikh riots organised by the cngress party, the CBI has been able to file the charge sheet against Sajjan Kumar only last month. This shows that the CBI operates on the basis of political pressure. When there is a real and tangible case of corruption then the CBI and the Courts are unable to act. However when there is no case of corruption based on public interest as is the case with the bangaru Laxman episode the CBI and the coutrs are quick to convict. Bangaru Laxman incriminated himself and self incrimination is not admissible evidence. Furtehr, the Courts must be sure that public interest was affected by the act of bribe taking. In this case no public ionterest was affected as there was no defence deal. Henc there was no corruption. Entrapment is not a judicially permissible method of evidence gathering. Laxman at best was guilty of an indiscretion and I wonder why the Thelka "journalists" are not brought into the judicial priocess as "bribe givers". In this case we have judicial overreach. Thelka thinks that the Abhishek Manu Singvi CD is not evidence of misconduct as they want to protect the image of their paymasters, the Congress, while pioor Bangaru Laxman is found guilty. I venture to say that this judgement will be set aside during the appeal. Why is it that only dalit and tribal politicians are convicted. We have Raja, Madhu Koda, now Bangaru Laxman all of whom belong either to the SC or ST category. A Karunanidhi or Sonia Gandhi seem to be above the reach of law.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

THE AGNI MISSILE WILL DEGRADE INDIAN SECURITY

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

The early morning launch of the Agni V missile from the Wheeler Rocket Launcing base has been hailed as a great strategic breakthrough by self styled "defence experts" and "secuity analysts". The reginme in power has a stable of "tele intellectuals" who will justify each and every mistake of the Congress dominated UPA regime. Not one of them asks the question: How does the possession of the intermediate range inter continental ballistic missile capability help or enhance Indian security. I think for purely ideological reasons some self styled experts like Bharat Karnad who want India to embrace the US strategic doctrine vis a vis China are hailing the launch as a major security boost. Nothing can be more far from the truth than the delusion that ICSMs help India deter China. The reginme sponsored "strategists" want to use the non existent threat from China to drive India into the deadly embrace of the USA.

The range of the missile is around 5000 kms which means that much of China is actually not in the range of the missile. This missile is only an empty gesture of provocation by projecting China as threat. China does show its disdain from time to time and that is an expected reaction from a great power which no longer sees India as a rival or even as a threat but only as hired gun slinger for the USA. By taking the US strategic doctrine which posits China as a threat, India is making a grave mistake because the interests of the US and India do not converge. USA will always use Pakistan as its proxy and it is not worth the while for India to treat China as an adversary. India's difficulties with China are purely bilateral and there is no need for India to jump on to the American divide in order to settle its bilateral issues with China. On the contrary, China has shown great statesmanship in dealing with India and by using the Tibetan Independence issue to annoy China, India is not doing its national security or interests any good.

China does not need missiles to punish India. And India does not have the political strangth to use its missiles against Chia. In fact the USA will [put pressure on India to "show restarit" and India will as ususal make virtue of neccisity. So in what way does this 5000km rage missile contibute to Indian security. Against Iran, India is again making a grave mistake by taking the American argument that Iranian nuclear ambitions are a threat to the region. Iran is only reacting to Israel and it is a well known fact that Israel has nuclear capability. Any regional peace plan must recognise the Israeli capability as well.

China will soon emerge as the world's largest economy and India has a lot to learn from the Chinese experience. Even in human rights I think China has a better track record than some Indian states. Chinese universities have become the cynosure of the world and India cannot hope to catch up for decades to come. Instead of just aping the US let India rethink its strategic options.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hon'ble Narendar Modi Stands Vindicated

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

Since 2002, the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendar Modi, has been battling charges ranging from criminal conspiracy, rioting, instigation to violence, abetment to murder and a host of imagined atrocities he is supposed to have committed. In the entire history of India no Chief Minister has had such a tough agni pariksha, a trial by fire. And the Hon'ble Chief Minister has come out unscathed. Witnesses were tutored, statements were fabricated, evidence manufactured, police officers dragooned into the campaign, but all these conspiracies fell by the wayside. The Special Investigation Team appointed by the Court has stated that there is not a shadow of doubt about the innocence of Hon'ble Narendar Modi. My question is quite simple: Sonia Gandhi called him a "merchant of death" (moth ka saugagar). Where was she when 15,000 Sikhs were massacred on the streets of New Delhi when her late husband Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and Congress goons ( in fact every Congressman is indeed a goon) went from street to street armed with the electoral rolls and pulled out Sikh men and mercilessly killed them. I have another question: Why did the Congress shield all the criminals involved and even appointed the ring leaders to important cabinet positions. Why was the investigation so shoddy that not a single convictions has been secured in spite of major Commissions of Inquiry. I think the answer is also simple: Congress is a violent dynasty obsessed party and it protected its goons and I am somewhat surprised that Atal Behari Vajpeyee did not reopen this issue when they had the opportunity.

Hon'ble Narendar Modi has repeatedly won the elections in Gujarat and even the Muslim population of Gujarat seems to have reposed its trust in him. The Congress brand of identity politics has lost ground in Gujarat and therefore under the compulsions of electoral politics the party tries to keep hounding him and Modi always bounces back looking smarter than ever before. When the Courts have found no evidence to even summmon Hon'ble Narendar Mosi I am somewhat shocked to see that Congress courtiers always bring up the alleged complicity of Modi in the post Godhra riots. As for as the Congress MP who was killed in the Housing Society incident, it is well known that he had a terrible reputation and his own enemies in the so called Congress party may have used the riots to have his butchered and Congressmen are known to indulge in factional fighting.

Teesta Setavad has been convicted of perjury in the Best Bakery Case in which she was found guilt of influencing the testimony of the witness. With sucgh a record the Bar Council of India should have debarred her but she still soldiers on spewing venom against the Chief Minister from Evey Television channel. The Hob'ble Chief Minister has been proven innocent and it is absolutely criminal pon the part of anyone to claim that he is implicated in the post Goshra riots. I agree that the Hon'b;le Chief Minsister has unconventional methods of dealing with organised crime, but his methods of course are effective. Gujarat has emerged as the fastest growing state in India, and the infrastructure and power situation are the envy of the nation. The rapid strides made in the field of solar energy makes Gujarat a pioneer and you have just to take a look at the mess in Rajasthan to understand where Gujarat stands in this field. Law and Order are of course on track and there are no major incidents of atrocities on tribal and SCs in the state. The Congress brand of politics hinged on the manufacture of communal violence and the state had paid a heavy price for that. Since Modi came to power, the Congress brand of street fascism has been checked and we have no one but the Hon'ble Chief Minister to thank for that. In spite of all this, Modi carries the Cross of Godhra and it will take him some more effort to wipe the stains off. Already the judicial verdicts have given an immense boost to his national standing and I hope that the faction ridden BJP closes ranks around the Hon'ble Chief Minister.

One last point. Gujarat is perhaps the only state where the Chief Minister is not corrupt, his ministers and officers are afraid of corruption and there is a modicum of moral authority.