James Kirchick, author of The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age warns American freedom is threatened by the loss of liberalism...
Archive for 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
When an army chief gets cross there is nothing much you can do, as the Indians are learning the hard way. In neighbouring
like in many Arab countries in the past, things might have been simpler. All
General B K Singh had to do if he wasn’t happy with the government was to
declare a coup. Pakistan
If in the chaotic and non decisive India no one seems to know what to do, it’s because the saga of the Army General B K Singh, who is about to retire is a complex one.
First there was this issue regarding his real age arising out of two different dates entered in the military records. Unbelievable it is, no one really knew or could decide how old the commander of the vast army protecting 1.3 billion Indians was until the Supreme Court turned down a case he filed against the government.
The row which did go on for the better part of last year between the General and the government which ended up in court and in a serious loss of face for both parties, gave the general impression that
was not expecting an invasion from any corners. India
Then there was this ‘bomb’ of a bribe of $3.5 Million the general was offered by another retired general for favouring purchase of substandard trucks for the military. Totally out of expected conduct of an army chief, Mr Singh revealed the offer for the bribe to a national daily which promptly chose to publish it without blinking an eye.
This caused great shock inside and outside the country and an uproar and commotion in the parliament which demanded explanation as to why no action was taken by the general or the defence minister to whom the matter was promptly reported.
But what has happened today, by the leak of an official letter the general had written to the Prime Minister listing the pathetic state of lack of modern equipment and vulnerability of Indian defences has created unprecedented political upheaval and expression of anguish and strong demand for sacking of the general.
However, the Indian government, which is playing hosts to a meeting of the BRICS will be greatly embarrassed to take any action against the general right away.
Even though all three events look to be related and involving General Singh, the reality is stemming from the fall out from the 2G scam the Indians political parties chose to politicize out of proportion for partisan gains, resulting in total inaction by the government machinery, especially in the ministry of defence, which is wary of accusation of corruption.
After all General B K Singh may be doing the country a great service in bringing home the realities of dealing with defence budgets, expenditure, need for secrecy and integrity of human beings, all mutually opposing factors in real life.
Indians, who generally think they have nothing to learn from anyone else, have to learn the virtue of moderation if they need to feel secure under the protection of a great army!
Article first published as What Can a Billion People Do With a Frustrated Army Chief? on Technorati.
Anna Hazare is playing ‘Don Quixote’ again without reading the novel. If he will care to read, perhaps he will realise the futility of his own actions in his old age.
“Many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote's innate idealism and nobility are viewed by the world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality”
There is none so blind as those who won’t see and Anna Hazare and his team won’t see that their game of “Don Quixote” is not fair on 1.3 billion Indians!
There are striking resemblances. For a starter like Alonso Quijano who adapts the name Don Quixote, Anna who is 74, must have been reading too many books on chivalry (certainly not “Don Quixote”) while all that corruption was going on under his nose for all these years. It is not clear though what has woken him up to the ‘menace’ of corruption he must save his country from, even if he has to give up his life for that!
Arvind Kejriwal, who acts as if he has been secretly offered and aspire to the post of Lokpal of India, fits very well in to the role of the illiterate and gullible Sancho Panza, the squire of Don Quixote, who was offered the post of the governor.
Kiran Bedi, the frustrated and very first woman police officer of the prestigious
cadre of ,
fits in very well as Antonia, the
niece of Don Quixote and Prasanth
Bushan, the leading lawyer, as the village curate, both acting in advisory
roles to Don Quixote. India
There are of course several minor characters, Rocinante the skinny horse of Don Quixote and Rucio, the donkey of Sancho Panza included, in the team of Anna Hazare.
Like Don Quixote, Anna and his team, in their wild dreams pick on anything they can which don’t retaliate, to blame for the epidemic of corruption in India while the real causes and reasons lie elsewhere and beyond the combined intelligence of the whole team.
The very notion that corruption is the biggest problem the nation is facing and getting rid of it must be the priority and there is only one way by entrusting a super cop who has the life and death power over 1.3 billion people to do it, all ideas propped up by Anna Hazare and his team, show how close Anna’s hallucinations are to those of Don Quixote.
For one thing, ‘corruption’ is in the vein of Asian culture which is based on spirituality and in pleasing gods by offerings to get along in life. It is in the blood of Indians. An honestly conducted survey among 1.3 billion Indians to find someone who has never been part of a corrupt act in life is likely to draw a blank. But then again honesty is not easy to find.
In fact corruption in
has numerous manifestations. Bribery rampant among public servants, capitation
fees in education, baksheesh for services, horse trading in politics, and favouritism
in government, only to name a few, each with its own causes and remedies if
Many of these are natural and unavoidable in a vast nation like
which remained a closed economy insulated from the rest of the world till the
nineties when near national bankruptcy forced the government to open the
country’s economy to influx of foreign investment. India
In reality, while the bribes were considered an ‘acceptable means’ to make up for the measly income in the public sector, the recent surge of foreign funds has aggravated the problems in urban life, exploding the difference between the haves and have-nots. This is different from the commercialisation of education, medical and other services. The corporate corruption involving the government is of different nature as well.
In effect, all these can be contained by a Lokpal is not logical. The recent actions by the supreme court sending central ministers to Jail also prove that nothing more than the existing system is required if the government and everyone empowered is willing to act conscientiously without interference or intimidation.
What then is the justification of blaming and picking on a ‘minority’ coalition government, which has tried to give the cleanest governance
has ever seen, for the windmill Don
Quixote was trying to tilt? India
Kejrival’s naming of 14 ministers, based on mere media reports, as corrupt and Anna Harare’s demand that they be sent to jail by August smacks of accusation, trial and punishment all by mere imagination and shows the dangers of an all powerful Lokpal which cannot be acceptable in any democracy.
It is interesting that the ‘real’ politicians who have managed to sabotage the Lokpal bill like Mamta Banerjee or strong men like Mulayam Singh Yadav whose newly elected government has appointed members with criminal background has not been challenged by the new Don Quixote of Indian politics.
Anyone who has listened to Anna Harare’s recent speech also can’t miss the lack of sound reasoning and racist overtones of his backers with a political agenda.
Like Don Quixote, Anna always chooses a nice sunny weekend for his pursuits. It is not surprising that young girls who like the fragrance of the candles looking for a chance to light some are always out to watch and applause the escapades. But it looks like Mumbaikars are busy running their lives and have no time for such madness!
Article first published as Will Someone Spare Anna Hazare a Copy of â€œDon Quixoteâ€ by Cervantes? on Technorati.
The Indian education system has miserably failed to create a new generation of ‘thinking’ and discerning minds to control the finger tips on the keyboards which deliver a variety of services to the rest of the world.
Instead millions of Indian youth, with ready access to the cyber world, whip up thoughtless and highly damaging frenzy, like the twitter trend ‘#coalgate’ created yesterday on a leaked report alleging Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh of presiding over a scam of $ 211 Billion involving sale of Indian coal mines to private companies.
What is more mind boggling than the penchant of the
CAG ( Comptroller and Auditor General ) of India to project assumed losses of astronomical sums to the government on account of corruption, is the willingness of millions of ‘educated’ Indians, on whom the west happily outsource everything, to jump in to ridiculous conclusions and create a frenzy like 'coalgate'.
What is more mind boggling than the penchant of the
1.3 billion Indians who live in
are a species apart on the surface of this earth which can’t see where the
petrol is coming from because it refuses to see what happens worldwide in the
supply of petrol. The average Indian believes government subsidy is the birth
right of every Indian. If you are generous, you can attribute this to a lack of
education which gives an overview of the world they live in and share with
But for millions of educated Indians, who share the information revolution and the cyberspace with the rest of the world, there is no excuse to realise and accept that there is nothing called a free meal.
For example, conceding that corrupt practices were resorted to in execution, the Prime Minister had already explained why and how the 2G spectrum was liberally distributed, as a Government policy, to encourage the telecom Industry.
This has seen India’s subscriber population exploding to a massive 700 million in a few years, who enjoy the lowest of rates anywhere in the world, thanks to the $39 billion it didn’t amass as licence fees, which would have been passed on to the consumers.
In fact what the Indian consumer has benefited from is an indirect and unspoken subsidy of call charges equivalent to the same amount, if they were to be compared with the rest of the world. Whether the western investors would have rushed to
to invest that kind of money in licence fees is a different matter. India
The new report of the
with accusation of loss of $211 billion to the government, which has been
leaked and subsequently refuted
by the CAG, arises from a government action
indented to stimulate the mining Industry.
The government and several Industry leaders have already pointed out why the
conclusions are baseless.
"Many of the blocks are uneconomic, you have to share between two or three parties and most of these blocks have hardly been explored at all. So remember, you would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration, development and infrastructure to exploit them," he said. "I think it will be forgotten quickly."
With the furore created over the issue, with heads of almost every leading Indian corporate from TATA to Arcelor Mittal as well as the Prime Minister himself likely to get a summons from the supreme court and possibly a term inside the infamous Tihar Jail already hosting a few ministers, the Indian’s can forget not only the development of the coal industry but any reform which should secure India’s legitimate position among developed nations.
With the two corporate heads of the $ 17 Billion Essar group already summoned by the Court in the fallout of the 2G scam, similar action cannot be ruled out and the dust is not going to settle despite any government attempt to brush away the aspersion cast by the leaked report.
If that happens, only the senseless politicians and thoughtless youth of
are to be blamed. India
Article first published as Now The Indians Want To Send Their Prime Minister To The Tihar Jail. on Technorati.
Article first published as Now The Indians Want To Send Their Prime Minister To The Tihar Jail. on Technorati.
India is the biggest working democracy and just one person’s sanity keeps it going. And that is Mamata Banerjee, the predictably mercurial Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal and the leader of the Thrinamool Congress Party, whose 19 members of parliament keep the stability of the Indian Government.
If Mamta goes mad, India can go mad and it looks like Mamta has gone mad. It is not clear if she has gone really bonkers, but it seems she is really mad at her party colleague and the central minister for the Railways, Trivedi.
Mamta Banerjee decided to sack him on the very day he has presented to the parliament the crucial budget for Indian Railways. Thrivedi's crime is making small and nominal increase in the ridiculously low Indian rail fares which no one is seriously complaining about, after 8 long years during which there was no hike.
That is really what makes every Indian really mad! Mamta is the leader of the Thrinamool congress, the biggest alliance partner in the ruling coalition who runs the Indian Railways and who has presented the Railway budget in the parliament today, announcing the over due hike to cover huge budget deficits. By evening, Mamta has already declared she won’t let the price rise proposed by her own party to be implemented. What does she take the 1,3 billion Indian’s for?
If ordinary Indians are just baffled by this incredulous behaviour of Mamta Banerjee, she had been driving her cabinet colleagues and the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh nuts in recent months by objecting and obstructing almost every reform measures the government wants to and has tried to introduce to ensure the growth rate of India.
Like the flip flops she famously walks around in, her declared position towards the government had been one of vacillation on every issue, leaving everyone guessing what she will or won’t do in practice.
Coalition democracy everywhere is maddening. But no where has it such debilitating and disastrous effects as in the Indian politics, sabotaging any chances millions of poor people have to get basic amenities like food, water, housing education and health care ever in their lifetime.
The main factor, a lack of real internal democracy within political parties, which breeds arrogance and whimsical behaviour of leaders, especially female leaders, is to blame for the sad plight of millions of Indians.
Mamta Banerjee has a populist agenda. However like many a housewife in India she doesn’t bother where the money will come from. Mamta Banerjee may not be intelligent enough to grasp the intricacies of economics, but as a leader of millions of people who trust her to deliver on her promise to improve the quality of their lives; she has a responsibility to listen to those who know. For now her behavior in public give serious concern about her state of mind.
For the west and the US especially, who consider India as the place to be in for growth and business from multi billion dollar deals to create jobs back home, this mad embrace of populism by ultra sensitive female leaders of India must be a serious concern and a factor not to be missed in whatever projections they make.
Article first published as Why Should The US Worry If Indiaâ€™s Mamta Has Gone Mad? on Technorati
Mobile phones may have a problem in predicatively suggesting the name of Engelbert Humperdinck in text messages, but for millions who will miss Whitney Houston and her music, the name Engelbert spells magic and nostalgia.
The BBC has announced this morning that 75 year old Engelbert Humperdinck, once the heart throb of women around the world, will represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision song contest, to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 26 May. Engelbert has stated that
"It's an absolute honour to be representing my country for this year's Eurovision Song Contest." "When the BBC approached me, it just felt right for me to be a part of an institution like Eurovision. I'm excited and raring to go and want the nation to get behind me!"
Engelbert Humperdinck, dubbed the "King of Romance", is best known for his 1967 hit Release Me, which kept The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever off the number one spot.
For those who haven’t herd of this legendary singer who became famous for his crooning, Engelbert Humperdinck has received four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for Entertainer of the Year and is one of only a handful of artists with a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Las Vegas Walk of Fame.
"Release Me", his 1967 smash hit version of the 1950s country song was the one that started it all for Engelbert. "Release Me" was succeeded by two more hit ballads, "There Goes My Everything" and "The Last Waltz," earning him a reputation as a crooner.
As per the BBC, the song Humperdinck will perform for the Eurovision contest is yet to be announced but will be recorded in London, Los Angeles and Nashville.
It will be written by Grammy award-winning producer Martin Terefe and Ivor Novello winner Sacha Skarbek, who co-wrote James Blunt hit You’re Beautiful.
Arnold Dorsey who was born in Chennai, India to a British army officer, took his stage name Engelbert Humperdinck from a German composer best known for his opera Hansel and Gretel.
"I have such wonderful childhood memories of Madras. I like the sun, and my 10 siblings and I went from a big home in India to relatively modest surroundings in England, which can be so cold and grey. Life in England was tough initially, but then we settled down."
Engelbert is equally popular in India and a generation of Indians have reciprocal feelings about him. Engelbert was worshipped to the extent that the Konkani singers, Alfred and Rita Rose, named an offspring after him.
No Goan and Parsi event was complete without Engelbert's music. It was perfectly in sync for our weddings, dances, village socials and Sunday morning hops for the waltz, fox trot or dancing.
There is no doubt that even the “digital” generation around the world, especially in India will be thrilled to hear the “King of Romance” croon again even if they can’t get his name right!
Article first published as Please, For Godâ€™s Sake Donâ€™t Call Engelbert Humperdinck Engelbert Hyperlink! on Technorati.