Vande Mataram

Monday, August 24, 2009

Opposition and Ideology

The BJP has sent shock waves through the political circles by expelling its most senior leader and a foreign policy expert, Jaswant Singh. The reasoning and timing stinks indeed. Reason being authoring a book, the title of which appears to question the basic beliefs of the party. Has anyone in the party come up with a strong reason to reject the book and the author? NOPE. A reason in the true sense of the word was not given for expelling Jaswant Singh. The talks of the political leaders are purely echoing the press opinion of the book.

The learned opinion is that the people who manned the "Chintan Bhaitak" (Introspection Session) had appeared not to have read the book, not even the synopsis nor a review. Singh argues that the Congress' top duo during the partition period are more responsible for the cut off than the often demonized Jinnah. This is a fact and that puts the BJP stand for decades that the Gandhi-Nehru duo were responsible for the ruins of nation and the spirit of the democratic system. History has scores of evidences that Nehru had often strong tongued Gandhi in getting things in his way. So, why throw out a man who comes out with a very supportive arguement for the party's stand?

The bottom line of this episode is that Singh has no political strong grounds to stand. He has raised reasonable questions that has put the top brass of the BJP in much inconvenience, by challenging their ego. So they threw him out, as simple as that. Every decision by the BJP brass from 2004 general elections were based on over confidence than on a perfect analysis of reality. Bharath Udai bombed as it painted a double coated rosy picture of the economy, while the plight of the common man was highlighted by the Congress. The fruits of the prudent economic decisions were in the stage nearing fruition at that moment, though.

The party lacked the will to go for the kill as they could have easily snubbed the financially futile Congress in 2004 by some tough politicking. They also lacked the skill to counter the Congress' charges of "Aam Aadmi" being ignored. BJP had some excellent minds those could convince even a staunch opponent to support their ideas. But the way they had conducted business from 2004 makes it very clear that the previous successes had gone into the heads of the party heads. They were over confident and had lost. They could not come to terms with the loss and were strenuously objecting even the negligible errors 0f the UPA Government thus getting an image of Communists who oppose everything for sake of opposing.

The current introspection session has had done no effective introspection on the pathetic performance of the party in the recently concluded elections. The leaders seem to live in an elevated world insulated with their own perceptions that they could not face the ground reality. The leaders have taken stances those defy common social etiquette. A person who was with the team of leaders for 30+ years was simply asked to keep away over the telephone. If a leader of this stature is treated in such an uncivil manner, what would be the fate of the common cadre who tends to question the decisions of the leadership on common man's logic? Only if the leaders show respect for the cadres they could command respect in the society.

It makes one who looks for an alternate to the GOP flinch with the developments in the BJP. Once it happened between the then law minister Ram Jethmalani, and the secretary of Dept of Law, Justice and Company affairs that they both got into a public spat and it was the then PM Vajpayee gave them strictures that usage of terms like Alice in Wonderland in official communication was much below the reputation of the personalities and the positions involved. They both went silent and solved their differences in a different way. But now the party management is termed as Alice in Blunderland, Humpty Dumpty, Jack Sprat etc and none comes forward to advise people involved on the necessity of subtleties in public communication.

This shows the entire party is in chaos. Things go haywire and no one comes forward to control. Those who have come to terms with the prevailing situation have been ridiculed. Those who have asked for streamlining party operations have been sidelined. The basic marketing concept that the same market strategy would not work for every market has been forgotten by the party "strategists" and the issues of the previous century are still hoisted with heavy clamour. People could not come to terms with temple building repeatedly showcased as nation building while the urgent issues of economic, national and social importance were not addressed. Either build the temple come what may, or leave it off and move on with nation building.

The bottom line is that the party still suffers from its historic blunders. It still fights over history and forgets the current affairs. Those who live and fight for the past can never be trusted with future building. Be it Jinnah, Nehru or the British that had divided the nation, now we have cut throat enemies across the border who still take pride in killing people on this side of the LoC.

Instead of fighting for who is responsible for the past, the party should come up with ideas on how to shape up the future of the nation keeping in mind every aspect of security in mind. Let us keep the discussion of the past mistakes for free time and take up the task of making the future.

We shall not give room for another generation to discuss who goofed up in early 2000s as we discuss now on who mess up in early 1900s. Nation needs a strong and vibrant opposition party which tracks the current issues and thinks for the better future. Anyone in the BJP ready to listen? There is a deafening noise over there within the BJP top brass. Who will make them to calm down and think properly? RSS? They can, but will they? Effectively? Hey Ram..... This should not become the last words of the party which was grown upon the same Name.

Unlocking of Lockerbie criminal - Compassion for what?

“Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.” - William Shakespeare.
We see tears, shrill and whine over Scottish justice minister's decision to free Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the criminal convicted of bombing the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie killing 272 people, on compassionate grounds. This leaves every sane mind with a question whether we need the provision in the laws to release criminals of such a grave nature on compassionate grounds. Megrahi was accorded a hero's welcome in Libya, as if he has done something extraordinarily good for his nation or for the world and had been jailed for a cause. Criminals who have the potential to be symbolized for recruits and trainees at the terror camps don't deserve to be released on any grounds.

Megrahi had killed people who hadn't chosen to die over the skies of Lockerbie. The people were common men women and children, who were going home or away from home for reasons personal, business and intimate. They were not allowed to live a life of their choice. They were killed at the behest of Col.Gadhaffi, by Megrahi and gang, to show to the world that they are someone that the world has to be afraid of. Releasing him on compassionate grounds is not what justice is, be it the system of whichever country. Earl Warren rightly said,"It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive".

The argument supporting his release is not based on strong legal or judicial grounds. People argue that the American bombers of Iranian civilian airplane were not punished, so none should question the release of Megrahi. American bombing of civilian aircraft is a different case. People concerned should have approached the International Court of Justice or the UNO for dealing with that crime. It is not wise to compare two crimes and justify one. Crime is a crime and it deserves punishment through a thorough legal system.

Megrahi killed people and that is a fact. If terrorists wanted to show “compassion” they wouldn’t have become terrorists. Therefore showing compassion to them is criminal. The abettor of the Pan Am attack is terminally ill and would like to die in peace. Let him do it in the confines of a prison cell. If that Megrahi had repented for the killings he had abetted and took part in, and atleast felt bad for the common people whom he killed under the orders of one who wanted to frighten someone else for some reason the dead were not allowed to comment or even think upon, then his release on compassionate grounds to have him a death at the place of his choice would have some credibility. Peace has nothing to do with the place you live, it is a state of mind.

If people have the maturity to live life peacefully with a calm mind, even petty crimes would not happen. Until then, we need to have mercy only for the victims and not for criminals, especially towards such brainwashed people who take pride in killing in the name GOD in a form they worship. Megrahi should not have been released. Scotsmen have erred in judgment. This is a costly error. This has already cost 272 human lives and may cost more because of the agony and angst.

Englishmen are accused of having vested trade interests in this crime of release. If that is proved we have to hail Sir. Winston Churchill for telling the truth about the mentality of his people so publicly. He said,“
The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.” Englishmen seem to be strong now and Americans are weaker. If this release is based on compassion, is it a compassion for justice or compassion for commerce?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sharm - El- Sheik: An episode of shame for India?

We've had a lot of discussions, lashings, defenses, promises, justifications and pleas on the Joint statement of the PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart in Sharm-El-Sheikh. The meeting was not a formal Indo-Pak summit. It was just a sort of a tete-a-tete on the sidelines of NAM summit. So, the first question we need to ask is what the pressing necessity was for a joint statement. Was it an unnecessary exercise by the over zealous foreign services officers? The PM had stepped over the External Affairs minister, a man he had trusted with the responsibility of taking the foreign policy forward.

S.M.Krishna is not a mere vote crammer who had risen to higher up levels only because of dirty political tricks and loyalty defying rationality. He is qualified lawyer from University Law College, Bangalore and was a Fulbright Scholar who studied and taught International Law at the The George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C. He is a man capable of understanding the nuances of foreign policies and working on them. He is often referred to as the father of modern Bangalore by making it the IT capital of India. He was also instrumental in creating power reforms and was a torchbearer of the Bangalore Advance Task Force. So, his skills are not questionable.

If the PM wants to earn a name as a peace propagator that is fine. But that doesn't mean that he should slight the presence of his minister responsible for external affairs. The PM could have taken up some task in his own forte Economics and done something exceptionally good for the national economic development, while every one has been concentrating and boasting on economic growth. Testing new waters without proper assistance has proved costly, not only for the PM but also for the nation. The external affairs minister was reportedly not involved in this issue. He also did not comment on this afterward.

Why should the PM okay a statement that has ambiguities in many areas and sounding to be a statement of Pakistan. In the words of Kanwal Sibal," it was an ill-conceived and badly drafted joint statement that had compromised India's position and made unnecessary and damaging concessions to Pakistan". In other words, the PM had, at Egypt, agreed to de-link action on terror infrastructure in Pakistani soil as a precondition for "meaningful dialogue" and had backtracked on it upon reaching New Delhi. The PM had cited example of his predecessor Vajpayee's invitation to Musharraf after the Kargil and Parliament terror attacks, while defending his acts.

We still disapprove of Vajpayee's decision to invite Gen.Musharraf as a state guest, whom any other soverign nation would try as a war criminal. Vajpayee had also backtracked on and earlier stand that Indo-Pak dialogue would not resume till democracy was restored in Pakistan. But he kept Musharraf under constant check, by surprising him with Pakistan's official secrets. The foreign affairs minister was not slighted by Vajpayee. He also never backtracked on his own words to the Parliament, which Manmohan had done twice, once on the Indo-US nuclear deal and now on the Indo-Pak agreement.

It is a diplomatic goof up. A faux pas by a novice in foreign policy PM, and was subscribed by an expert career diplomat, the foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. We have had great minds with clarity of thought and the audacity to speak up the facts, no matter what the PM's intentions be, as Foreign Secretaries. T.N. Kaul, an ICS officer had remarkable ease in making friends and influencing adversaries, M.K. Rasgotra had the ability to reduce complex foreign policy issues to an intelligible political quotient, and J.N Dixit, with another foreign policy expert P.V. Narasimha Rao as PM, repositioned India in an emerging global order. We also have a south asia expert in the field of foreign affairs, G.Parthasarathy, who could also have been consulted. (sources for info in this paragraph: Articles by former FSOs of India)

But right from the Indo-US nuclear deal, we've had a PM who stands firm on his own beliefs and refuses to take people along with him, not even to hear their concerns and allay their fears. He had promised that the parliament would be taken into confidence before finalizing the nuke deal, but went back on that promise. Now that the parliament was in session, the PM had signed a documented dictated by his Pakistani counterpart, after making minor corrections. The inclusion of Balochistan in the document deserves explanation.

This would give Pakistan a chance to speak up that India is inciting terror in Balochistan and escape from it's long run crime of abetting terror in Kashmir and providing Governmental support to perpetrators of terror against us. The argument that the pathetic economic conditions of Balochistan would discourage Pak from raising Baloch terror as an issue in the international fora has no justification, but a mere attempt to cover up the PM by some of the supporters of his political Boss, under instructions to do so.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's clarification that the joint statement was only a “diplomatic paper” and not a “legal paper” questions the basics of the diplomacy.Diplomacy is a gentleman's arena where people go by the words and not by reassurances and clarifications. One agrees to something and sign then come and tell the world that the signature has no legal binding, pushes one's credibility to a weaker ground. Not expected of an international veteran diplomat, Mr. Tharoor, though he tried to save the face of his erring super boss.

The timing of the statement reiterates Mr.Singh's undying desire to please the US. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to arrive after two days of the joint statement. So, to paste a rosy picture for Hillary to boast having got the warring neighbours to peace table, the PM had okayed whatever Gilani had written in that paper. It seems when it comes to pleasing the US, the PM wants not to trust anyone and do it himself. That was why the Minister mannig the MEA was stepped over it seems. The man who was tipped for the top UN job and had landed up in our MEA Shashi Tharoor was also not taken in by the PM and party.

One has to conclude, with all these considerations, that the PM had attempted to get an image of peace loving statesman, but ended up as a childish novice saying something and backtracking on that upon criticism of what was said. Are you serious about your job Dr.Singh? Please act with some sense of responsibility. We still respect you as an economist who is capable of doing good to the nation's economic development.

The Sharm - El- Sheik episode has proved to be a shameful encounter for India. Ironically Sharm means shame in Hindi.