An ill-advised Bangla visit
The UPA government should take full responsibility for the wrong timing of President Mukherjee’s visit to Bangladesh. Like many other instances of incompetence of this government, the Presidential visit might also go on record as ill-timed, ill-prepared and causing grave embarrassment both for India and Bangladesh. For the last one month the protests in Dhaka were going on in what is known as the Shahbag event. In the first few weeks it was a massive demonstration of the Bangladesh people’s anger at the collaborators and conspirators of the 1971 ravaging of the country when it was seeking to assert its own cultural nationalism from subjugation to Pakistan’s irredentism, going scot free for forty years after the liberation.
While the liberation of 1971 brought a secular and liberal constitution, within five years the Islamists provoked a coup that decimated the liberation’s father figure and most of his family members in a display of barbarism typical of extremist Islamist violence. Only Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughter Hasina who happened to be then in India hence escaped.
The UPA-II has created a record of sorts. Its nine-year rule has not only bequeathed the country an uncontrollable inflation of prices but also an inflation of scams. Going by their number and the amount involved, the scam inflation seems to overtake the price inflation. Counting their number and the timing, it is possible to predict that the helicopter scam, the latest in the series beginning with the 2G scam, the scam graph would keep going northward.
The most significant aspect of the AgustaWestland scam is that increasingly the so-called honest-to-god ministers in this government are getting drawn into the vortex of these incidents of loot of public funds. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh barely escaped being arraigned in the 2G corruption case. Though he was aware of how the then telecom minister, from coalition partner DMK, was distributing the 2G licences, he did not act proactively to stop this loot.
Failure of the state in Bihar
Who is responsible for what happened in the BJP’s Patna rally? Were the serial blasts merely the display of incompetence at the Union home minister’s level? The entire self-styled secular gang should share the blame for it. That as many as 18 bombs could be planted in and around Gandhi Maidan just before the rally exposes more than Sushilkumar Shinde’s incompetence.
Owaisi is the speaking Kasab
The Akbaruddin Owaisi’s hate speech in Hyderabad and decapitating of an Indian Army jawan at the Indo-Pak border in J&K are the result of a common mindset. Both the actions are borne out of centuries of abhorrence of timeless Catholic and pluralistic culture and traditions of this ancient land.
Akbaruddin in his relentless tirade threatened Hindus, insulted their gods and beliefs. Worse is that his vitriolic statements were endorsed by a huge crowd, running into thousands. The helpful administration and ‘secular’ politicians turned a deaf ear to this case of rabid communalism and most of the players of the media entered into a conspiracy of silence.
India needs a bold government
Within days of his re-election, President Barack Obama was out to meet Asian leaders at the East Asia Summit in the Cambodian capital of Pnom Penh. That underscored the importance the region has begun to acquire as a playground of global forces in a rapidly changing world power balance. By some coincidence the other major power in the world, China, also underwent a change in leadership within its one-party regime. At the other end, in Myanmar change is occurring with a slow movement from military autocracy to democracy.
Economy inspires little hope
The prospects for the 12 months ahead form the core of expectations at every Diwali. This year there were lights as usual but there was little to cheer on the economic front. The Congress held a chintan baithak on Diwali eve and no one could have missed the lack of enthusiasm in the Congress ranks itself. Sonia Gandhi’s rhetoric attacking the Opposition would not mask the reality of the government losing its credibility with one scam after another coming out. The party is put off because the CAG, Vinod Rai, publicly charged the government as ‘brazen’ in its decision-making. The party says he was crossing the ‘Lakshman rekha’ set by the Constitution on the functions of the CAG.
The government should ask what makes eminent constitutional authorities, one after the other, do this? Is it not their severe disappointment with the functioning of the prime minister? Not in the recent past has the Centre been openly described to be caught in a ‘policy paralysis’.
India’s Malala lesson: Do not fan the flames of orthodoxy
The shocking incident in the jihadi-infested Swat valley of Pakistan where Islamists shot at 15-year old girl Malala Yousafzai for daring to campaign for the right of girls to go to school has stirred the conscience of the world, including some in Pakistan. Even Pakistani army chief General Kayani who visited the seriously wounded girl in hospital, described Malala as “an icon of courage and hope… fighting to preserve (values) for future generations”. President Asaf Ali Zardari described her as his own daughter and called for a struggle against the militant mindset.
The popular outrage within Pakistan following the incident has kindled hope of things changing for the better in this Islamic country. This optimistic sentiment is best illustrated by the Newsweek (October 29) cover story’s headline, “‘The Girl Who Changed Pakistan’ and the accompanying blurb that reads: ‘The 15-year-old girl who may finally turn the tide on extremism.’
Leadership deficit in UPA
Last Friday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to frighten the nation into accepting his set of ‘reforms’ by repeatedly warning that the country was on the edge of economic collapse just as it was in 1991 when he stepped in as the savior-reformer finance minister.
The fundamental question is what and who brought the country back to the 1991 position when economic collapse stared it in the face? Between 2004 when Singh became the first nominee prime minister ever to hold that position in the country and now it is eight years. That is long enough time to assess his impact and now he admits that after eight years of his rule the country is back or about to be back to the 1991 position. So here is ‘progress’ by going backwards!
Fudging facts on minorities
How does one explain Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s statement that the rise in Muslim population in the state was due to high levels of illiteracy leading to larger families among Muslims than among others? The report about his press conference states that he ‘dismissed the suggestion that illegal migration from Bangladesh has led to high growth of Muslim population in the state but blamed illiteracy for the high birth rate among the community’.
Forget the fact that same Tarun Gogoi had said a fortnight earlier that illegal immigration needs to be checked as that is responsible for the troubles in lower Assam. Even his blaming the illiteracy among Muslims as the reason for the high birth rate among them is far off the mark. Let us take a state where the illegal immigration does not exist — Kerala. The decennial growth of Hindus there is 20 per cent as per the 2001 census and of Muslims is 36 per cent.
Congress gains as Assam bleeds
In Assam, for all the assurances the Centre and the State are giving the people of the western part of Assam on security, more incidents of killing have been reported recently. That calls into question the ability of the Congress government in Assam and the UPA government in New Delhi of maintaining basic law and order.
The irony of these assurances is that the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is urging the camp inmates to return to their homes while the killings have taken place exactly among those who took courage to return. So much for his administering the state.