Friday, March 31, 2017

G Parthasarathy and Kasturirangan at Pondicherry University

Mrs Janaki Srinivasan Lighting the lamp
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The School of Social Sciences and International Studies of Pondicherry University invited two remarkable high achievers for talks at the UNiversity. Both of then, Ambassador G Parthasarathy and Professor Kasturi Rangan, former Chairman, Indian Space Research Organization spoke passionately about the areas of their expertise and inspired the University community.
G Parthasarathy addressing the students of Pondicherry University
G Parthasarathy is a seasoned diplomat and is not given to vacuous niceties that do not address the outstanding issues plaguing the two countries, India and Pakistan. He did not seem particularly concerned that the SAARC unity would be a casualty of the estranged relationship between India and Pakistan. Instead he argued that the BIMSTEC grouping could be used to the advantage of India. On Sri Lanka, the diplomat was forthright. He categorically maintained that Indian fishermen with deep sea fishing nets are entering the territorial waters of Sri Lanka and are depleting the marine resources. His address was printed and distributed to the audience. He is a firm advocate of a rethink on the No First Use Policy of India with regard to nuclear weapons. He seemed to suggest that China has helped Pakistan build Plutonium weapons which can be deployed as tactical battle field weapons. It was really amazing to hear G Parthasarathy, a civil engineer by training speak so authoritatively about Indian foreign and security policies. Unlike academics from Indian Universities who spout half digested inanities marinated in the  jargon of post colonial theories, Parthasarahy presented his arguments in a logical manner.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Anisa Khan with Dr Kasturi Rangan

Professor Kasturi Rangan was another visitor who was invited by the CSA Studies, School of Social Sciences and International Studies Pondicherry University to address the students. He spoke for nearly an hour and the J N Auditorium was packed to capacity. He began by tracing the history of Indian Space Programme from Tumba, the Equatorial Rocket Launching Station when India first began sending rockets to measure the atmosphere. The launch of 104 satellites in a single launch makes India a leader in Space technology. He spelt out the uses of such advanced technology by laying emphasis on the inherent real time data that such technologies transmit to the ground station. In hydrology, remote sensing, terrestrial mapping, resource planning are all areas in which satellites have their utility. I drew attention to the racist cartoon in New YorkTimes which questioned the utility of such technology to poorer societies.

It was a rich experience listening to these great men.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BJP VIctory in Uttar Pradesh: Implications for 2019

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

The BJP sweep in Uttar Pradesh did not come as a surprise to this blogger as he had predicted a tally of 300 seats. In reality, the BJP got well over this number and we have to ask some hard questions which have serious implications for the General Elections of 2019.

THe first question is: Did demonetization play a positive role in galvanizing the poorer sections of society in favour of the BJP. The conventional wisdom emanating from the wooly leftist commentators was that demonetization to prove a disaster and voters would register their protest in the polling booths. This did not happen primarily because the political messaging that accompanied the move was clear: the policy was aimed at unearthing black money and was meant to keep the pledge of rooting out corruption and hoards of hoarded wealth. The Congress and the BSP the most vocal critics of the MOdi initiative have had to bite the dust because they did not understand the baci purpose of the policy and its political implications. Even the small trader and daily wage worker soon adjusted to the new reality of a cashless or less cash economy and there was no major social unrest following the demonetization initiative. At the political level it shifted the focus of politics away from issues of identity to those of class, and employment along with livelihood.

The demonetization policy was effective in breaking the stranglehold of caste and power brokers over the electorate. Even in Muslim majority areas the Party has done extremely well. One obvious and a clear possibility is the Muslim women have voted in favor of the BJP given the stand taken by the party on the contentious triple talaq issue. But this alone does not explain the fact that even in predominantly Muslim areas like Deaband which has nearly 70% Muslim electorate, the bJP quite easily won the seat. Here I postulate a hypothesis that the younger Muslim voters are increasingly getting alienated from the sort of divisive politics that the traditional parties practice in the name of "secularism". Tokenism at best and condescension at worst is the main feature of Indian secularism. Modi's message, Sab Ke Saath, Sab ka Vikas is not a mere statement of intent. It is now emerging as a new contract between State and Civil Society.

In 2019, the BJP will be able to do well. However by that time, the state Government may have been in power for more than 2 years and hence the strong winds of anti incumbency will be felt. I suggest, though the BJP hot heads may disagree, that the present mandate is not for identity based issues like the Ram Mandir and BJP must resist playing identity politics on the issue except play the occasional tune to the die hard mandir addicts. The social coalition consisting of Brahmins, Rajputs, Trading castes and sections of the OBC and non Jatav SCs is a fragile and rather short sighted. It would be best not to put total faith in the sustainability of this coalition and continue to build up support.

An interesting feature in these Elections has been the substantial increase in the vote share of the BJP. Even in Goa where BJP got less seats than the COngress, the Party has more share of the votes polled and the same in Manipur. Uttarakhand and Punjab did not come as a surprise to anyone and I am sure that the BJP was expecting a poor show. Probably the showing of the AAP may have come as a surprise.

All in all, if this trend continues the BJP will cross 305 to 320 seats in the Lok Sabha Elections of 2019.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Communist Killings in Kerala: Pinarayi Vijayan's Government must be dismissed

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

When there were riots in Gujarat, after 59 passengers returning from Varanasi were burnt alive in Godhra, the Media went to town claiming that the then Chief MInister was responsible for the violence that followed. The Hindu, a left leaning newspaper carried reports from the following day onwards about flag marches that had been organized to check the violence and it was pointed out that several people were killed in police firing against rioting mobs. Not satisfied the dynastic fascists and their leftist allies created an international buzz over Narendra Modi and Hussein Obama obliged them by putting the Hon'ble Chief MInister on the list of people who were to be denied US visa. The general opinion that was advocated was that the Chief Minister by failing to bring the riots under control was abetting in the violence that followed. It was forgotten that after the demise of Indira Gandhi, the dynastic fascists went around killing nearly 4,500 Sikhs in the capital city itself and Rajiv Gandhi justified the attacks by saying famously that the ground shakes when a big tree falls.
In Kannur District of Kerala. over the past one year more than 100 Karyakartas of the RSS have been brutally hacked to death and not a single arrest has taken place. It is clear that the State Government under the notorious Pinarayi Vijayan is actively encouraging its essentially tiya social constituency to hunt and kill sympathizers of the BJP or the RSS. The list of potential victims is vetted by the state secretariat and a hit squad organized with the active assistance of the CPM Kannur District Committee. So far more than 100 young men have been killed and there is not a whimper of protest from the so called defenders of freedom and free speech. Their silence is eloquent. They are only saying that the space for political dissent and freedom is to be occupied only by the leftists and no one else. Such one sided and perverse interpretations of freedom is a sure sign of growing intolerance on the part of the left and creeping fascism, which does not brook any kind of dissent. The Prabhat Patnaik's of the world will be quiet when leftist goondas kill political  opponents.
It is now time for the Central Government to intervene. The State Government is using its considerable police force to protect the cadre of the CPM involved in such systematic killings. Rajnath Singh, the Home MInister is as usual quiet. Hoping that the problem will just slip away and he can take his mind on to more weighty issues like crafting a political future for his son and grandson. We have faith in our Prime MInister. We expect him to act.
There is enough evidence on hand to sdemonstrate that the CPM is actively colluding with the CPM criminals involved insuch killing. We expect the Prime MInister tto dismiss the CPM Government and prosecute Pinarayi Vijayan.