Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking back at the Mumbai episode

It was during one of the television shows telecasted in late November, 2008, a group of media persons from Pakistan wanted to make the point that the terrorists killed and nabbed during the Mumbai terror attacks were actually Indians, and not Pakistanis. This is long before the Indian government produced evidences that the killers took birth and got trained in Pakistan. However, the media journalists from Pakistan projected as if the terrorists belonged to right-wing Hindutva organizations, who were quite critical and disenchanted about the so-called brand image of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and other such organizations. But, why did they do so? May be it was their first natural reaction to defend Pakistan, when everybody in the world could watch what was happening to Mumbai.

The question is: Can we really say that the Pakistani media was cooking up the story against India? We must look at the situation in a different way. Indian coast guard has till now been considered as pretty strong. Evidence: They fought against Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden, which is near the African coast and saved the lives of those who were abducted by the pirates. This was the news, which captured the attention of international media during November 2008. The pirates were actually poor Africans who bought illegal arms, indulged in hijacking ships and asked for ransoms. Hence, the terrorists from Pakistan could not have taken the sea route, if they had considered the Indian coastguard to be strong enough to ensure India’s national security. This is quite contrary to what really happened. But the Pakistani media reiterated that the terrorists could have been from India. Moreover, the present President of Pakistan's own wife i.e. the former PM Benazir Bhutto, herself got killed by terrorists during the year 2007. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari does not have a sound track record since he was in jail in the past on numerous occasions. He was alleged to be a corrupt leader. In that case, one might doubt him. We all know that the entire South Asian region suffer from gender biasness. But how can we leave our beloved Mr. Musharraf--the Great Dictator?

Let us now come back to the Mumbai episode. It must be told here that the terrorists knew the entire blueprint of Bombay, Taj Hotel and the Nariman corner quite well, beforehand. They fought like commandos against the National Security Guards. That's why they could kill so many people and ripped apart the very souls of the innocent Mumbai-ites. The last point that I would like to mention is that the erstwhile supporters of BJP/ VHP i.e. the ex-Army men and the God-lady Pragya--were being investigated by the top cop Mr. Hemant Karkare, who got killed by the terrorists during those attacks. The problem arose when BJP’s top leader LK Advani was trying to save these people, the same crooks who planned to kill some of the BJP and Sangh giroh members. The ex-Army men and Sadhvi Pragya considered many of the leaders from BJP as softliners, whom they wanted to finish. In fact, the Sangh because of making lewd comments on religious minorities chucked out these guys. Later, they were investigated for their alleged role in Malegaon blast. Instead of politicizing the issue, let us think about the terror issue in a pragmatic way, once again. Terror has no religion. A secular Indian neither supports Hindu terror nor Muslim terror. He does not need to. But what about VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and BJP supporters who raped a nun in front of a Father of the church in Orissa recently, and paraded them nakedly? Yes, I am talking about Kandhamal. Can those goons be termed as terrorists? Suppose, they would have done the same thing to the womenfolks who were Hindus, what would have been our reaction? Would one still go on to support them? History taught us that it is only the fascists who use religion to come to the power. It is only the fascists who blame other countries or communities for the wrongs happening within his/ her/ their country so that he/ she / they can carry on with the grand plan of war mongering. It is easy to talk about war but difficult to promote peace. People like Einstein, Gandhi are still remembered because they were pacifists when they were alive. Godse, who killed Gandhi, himself belonged to the Sangh Parivar. A democratic political party would always raise issues related to development, poverty reduction and policies to reduce unemployment. Remember, the elections are near. It might happen that BJP (and people like Narendra Modi) is pointing its finger towards Pakistan because of the dastardly act that happened in Mumbai in order to promote its own ideology of cultural nationalism. We all must remember the Gujarat pogrom when Mr. Modi was the CM. During the times of BJP, adivasis were killed, raped and looted. That is what had happened in Orissa. They even killed the military personnels, who were deployed to protect the adivasis. The Mumbai episode simply points out that this time the terrorists were from outside and not from India.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Indian elections: A look at the possible coalitions

With the forthcoming elections knocking at the doors, the time is ripe enough to gloss over the issue of possible coalitions, and at their relative strengths and weaknesses. To begin with, electoral polity in India went through 3 different phases: 1953-1967 was a Congress dominated phase, 1967-1989 was a Congress-opposition dominated phase and 1989 onwards was a post-Congress era. Indian election is the largest single organized event where 700 million voters would be participating. The votes would be cast electronically in 5 different phases (between 16 April-13 May, 2009), under the guidance of 7 million civil servants. The three possible major coalition fronts, which would try their lucks to form the government during 2009 parliamentary election are: the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance and the Third Front. It is expected that post-election coalition, as what had happened during the formation of government in 2004, would be based on commonalities in interests and agendas of the major political parties. During 2004, the UPA coalition chiefly comprised of: Indian National Congress (INC), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the Left parties etc. The National Democratic Alliance during the last time in 1999 comprised of: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Janata Dal (United), Shiromani Akali Dal etc. With the Left parties withdrawing its support to the UPA government on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal, possibility of an alternative Third Front has emerged. Hence, the newer coalition partners of UPA or the NDA would not be same as it were earlier. The Third Front in that case might comprise of the Left parties, Telegu Desam Party (TDP), AIDMK, Biju Janata Dal etc. A Fourth Front is also on the rise.

The formation of post-election coalitions seemed natural until a few days back. The political sphere of India has currently exhibited the movement of different political leaders across the spectrum in order to handhold for alliance formation. The present scenario appears grim for the Congress in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where it was traditionally dependent on seat sharing arrangements with the Samajwadi party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, respectively. The spate of killings of innocent Tamilians by the Sri Lankan troops in order to combat the rebel LTTE forces might distance DMK and AIADMK away from the Congress. Trinamool Congress from West Bengal, headed by Ms. Mamata Banerji, which took the issue of displacement and dislocation due to industrialization in Singur and Nandigram, has emerged as a possible coalition partner for the Congress in the forthcoming elections. The Left parties are facing opposition from the Christian community in Kerala on issues related to the Church and hikes in higher education fees, which might affect their vote bank. The BJP has emerged stronger in the recent assembly elections, held in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Karnataka. The recent comments made by Mr. Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, on the pub violence case of Mangalore, might affect Congress’ prospects amidst the urban, young voters. Mixed results are expected for the Congress from states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand

Uttar Pradesh is going to be another battle of Awadh to determine, whether Ms. Mayawati from the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), could emerge as the Prime Minister of India. Her recent approach towards the Third Front seemed cautious enough so as not to distract the mindsets of the potential voters, who like her image. The results of the parliamentary election of 2009 are going to be important in the sense that presently the country is undergoing several crises: food and agrarian crisis, financial crisis and the crisis of security. The onus of future economic and national security would fall on the alliance that comes to the power, which most of the political parties have understood. The election manifestos of the major political parties are reflecting this reality. Moreover, they would not like another hung Parliament this time. While there are chances that the Left might join hands with the Congress in the post-poll days in order to keep the BJP-led NDA away from the government, there are others who feel that Left would lose its edge in the forthcoming elections.

There are a variety of factors that might determine the prospect of a candidate for being elected in the forthcoming polls, which include: importance and depth of local issues over national and international issues, media coverage, display of muscle and money power, caste and religion-based propaganda that are communal in nature. Caste-based politics and voting patterns are expected to be stronger in states like: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Voters from rural background, and belonging to groups like scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and other backward classes, are expected to be more serious over casting their ballots. While the national media has focused more upon issues like global meltdown, terrorism and political extremism, Indo-US civil nuclear deal et al during the recent past, the regional print media has clearly brought before us local issues like: caste equations, unemployment, farm crisis etc., which would matter the most for the ordinary and poor citizens. Farm crisis and agrarian distress have the potential to become major issues in states like Punjab, Karnataka and Chattisgarh. While the urban Indians, residing in the posh colonies of the metros, may not get attracted to the polls, it would be gala time for the urban-based journalists, reporters and private television channels to capture and declare the results of the polls before the ever-hungry audience. The problem with this year’s election as was with the earlier ones is that issues like poverty reduction, transparency and accountability, better quality of public services delivery like heath care, water supply & sanitation, food and nutrition etc. would take a backseat. Wish, the Indian democracy matured overtime!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review: Global Future Analysis (2008) by Planck Foundation

Global Future Analysis (2008) by Planck Foundation,

Summary of findings:

1. Rising energy prices would adversely affect transportation, mobility and tourism. It will push up prices. Rising inflation without rise in effective demand would lead to stagflation.
2. Price of resources like ‘crude’ would go up due to fall in supply and rise in demand.
3. Credit crisis has squeezed demand, thus, affecting economic growth and leading to stagflation. Instead of holding their assets in currency or stocks, people prefer gold.
4. Water crisis has become prominent in Midwest of USA, South of Europe, China, large parts of Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Water crisis can give rise to food crisis and food price inflation.
5. Lack of banking regulation has affected the US economy. The report has criticized the role of former Treasury Secretary Paulson to bail out the irresponsible banks (with a sum of US$ 700 billion) under the Troubled Assets Relief Programme (TARP).
6. The Report points out that the credit crisis, the energy crisis, the water crisis and the mineral crisis have given rise to the food crisis, the economic crisis (stagflation), the currency crisis, the governmental crisis and the geopolitical crisis.
7. The world has really become flat because there exists no difference between the First and Third World.
8. A rare kind of socialism where profits are privatized and losses are socialized has come into being after the bailout measures undertaken by the Bush regime.
9. The derivative market is worth more than US$ 51.6 trillion.
10. Iceland, like Russia, has faced the currency crisis. The trade deficit of Iceland has increased over the years. Switzerland, Hungary and Ukraine are going to face similar currency crisis.
11. The local Raiffeison model of co-operative banking can become the business model in the future.
12. Apart from the TARP, the Fed has lent more than US$ 2 trillion to banks. The Fed is not ready to disclose to which banks, and under what conditions, the capital has been lent. It is now part of Fed’s ‘trade secret’.
13. The main cause behind the credit crisis is the presence of credit-based economy instead of a production-based economy. In the recent times, there was more emphasis on consumption led boom instead of a production based one. It is production, which provides more power to the economy.


1. The size of the document is huge. It comprises of 207 pages.
2. There are lots of grammatical errors, which make it difficult to read the Report. Wish the hard copy of the publication has been properly edited, before coming out as a book.
3. One would face hurdles while going through the Report due to lack of illustrations and graphs.