PM’s US visit seems a prosaic affair!
The Prime Minister went on a 7 day foreign trip. This was on security issues, inside and outside India.
PM’s US visit seems a prosaic affair. Indian diplomacy lacks vision and dynamism and a world view that needs to be articulated in a more refreshing style and language. The command of the English language by the present government seems temid, lacking in a contemporary ring and resonance. Our foreign ministry needs a more radical recasting.
It is a shame that India was not invited to the Vice-President’s Non-Aligned Nations meet!
In the last one moth we see in India strange goings-on.
The UPA-II seems to be at its low ebb after an initial flush of electoral success.
There are a series of letdowns, loss of nerves and what have you.
Prime Minister seems to be losing his sense of grip, as we see from a distance, away from New Delhi. The Women’s Reservation Bill, yes, it was pushed through or rushed through the upper house. Now, it is stuck in the lower house. So too the PM’s obsession with the nuclear accident liability bill which, it seems, is unlikely to see the light of the day. Not in the near future.
The government came almost on the brink of a collapse, if that is the strong word, it came near a loss of nerve, right?
Now, a series of other events had overtaken the government.
The great sense of shock and disbelief was the April 6th Naxal massacre of 76 CRPF jawans, of course a few Naxals as well. The brave jawans, again we hesitate to use the word but the brave jawans were sacrificed so cheaply and for nothing. They died without fighting and they were so brutally killed so blatantly and for all his brave words, as we saw P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, put up a brave face and talked with such clarity (and clarity for what purpose?)and he seemed to have his facts right but so totally wrong he was in asserting he would continue to fight the Naxals and no one present in the house, though they were over-awed by the Minister’s chase and yet dry English language and yet here was a minister whose with all his braveness and his pronounced resolve, here was a minister standing before the house (or the before the bar of the entire country) who didn’t tell us why his intelligence machinery failed so hopelessly.
Neither anyone asked.
It was after watching the Lok Sabha where the minister spoke and where such seniors and leaders like Sonia Gandhi, L.K.Advani, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav were listening so intently and with all the other honble members present; no one asked why the intelligence failed?
Nor the media the very day or the next day asked and analysed the question.
It was only two dissenting voices that were raised against the home minister. One was Digvijay Singh, the General Secretary of the Congress party and a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, who knows the terrain and the tribals issues more than, perhaps anyone else, so well, wrote an article in the Economic Times, an article that, raised a storm.
Digvijay Singh raised a series of questions and also put forward some concrete suggestions to tackle the Naxals menace. What really troubled the Congress party and the government was Singh’s certain remarks about P.Chidambaram’s personal idiosyncrasies, his “intellectual arrogance, rigidity” etc. Singh was candid enough to confess he himself was a victim of PC’s this arrogance!
Next day, the media, both and print and visual didn’t touch upon the more substantial part of Digvijay Singh’s criticism. Development issues in the tribal belt were what stood out in Singh’s criticism of PC’s mere” law and order” approach.
Why the print media is so timid? Also, so commercially-driven. Why the TV news channels only after sensational trivia?
So, the Congress party came out against Singh for voicing his views so openly outside the party forum.
But then, Singh was not alone, though he was the only senior Congress leader, a leader who, to put it so bluntlya is capable of taking over as the Prime Minister’s office, if it comes his way!
Not only Singh, the Bihar Chief Minister, Sri Nitish Kumar, a JD(U) leader in his own right, Kumar too came out to say that P.Chidambaram must talk less and do more!
In fact, the media, both print and visual simply ignored the whole topic! So too the tragedy that gripped the nation. The latest Naxals attack and brutal retribution to the Indian CRPF personnel is a war against the state. It is a war, a civil war and a war against the Central government authority.
Then, why no hue and cry, so to say, was not made? A widespread anger and reaction? A debate or a discussion? Thousand pities indeed!
Even after PC spoke in the Lok Sabha, Kumar came out once again, why PC speaks against the Chief Minister in the press and in public, he could as well have spoken to them in private, in confidence on such issues like tackling Naxalas.
I think the people would agree with such leaders like Singh and Kumar and for that matter, there were many voices as soon as the deadly masscare took place about the ways to tackle the menace.
Air Chief Marshal spoke about the use or otherwise of the air force to attack the Naxals. Even other ministers. To that extent the Prime Minister has to issue a gag order for anyone to speak out about the Maoist operations!
This clearly is not right in a democracy like ours and also an issue like the latest Maoist outrage after a series of similar outrages and blatant violence and killings to a point where a situation has arisen when everyone who is anyone in this country has to speak out and can’t keep quiet and no government worth its salt can’t imagine to cage the spirit of public outrage and public helplessness.
Even Mamata Banerjee’s outrageous claims about there no Maoists in West Bengal go against the grains.
So, in such an explosive situation what one would expect from the government and the media, apart from the sense of helplessness that pervades the whole of the country and the intelligentsia and the elite is that there has to be a suitable and adequate response from the government and the ruling party.
Unfortunately, the response is not enough.
The day when P.Chidambaram spoke in the Lok Sabha, on Thursday, the 15th of April, the viewers, we are sure, would have formed their own opinion as to the adequacy or otherwise of the Home Minister’s response.
But the next day when the very same public would have turned to the response of the media, both print and the visual media.
What a great disappointment!
The print media went into a hideout! Almost! The print media, we mean, the big print media houses seem to have become too nice to the government under fire!
They just reported in a tense and an emotional way, the home minister’s reply briefly and as if nothing so outrageous had happened and that too all about the compensation and also a sense of the business as usual.
This government has somehow come to symoblise the very same spirit.
The Prime Minister was absent, away on foreign tour, for the whole of one week and when the Dantewada outrage and its aftermath didn’t seem to have mattered to the PM at all.
This was unbearable, to say the least.
Not the media was not aware of the PM’s absence.
In the meantime, when the PM was abroad and almost faded away from the visual media which in the meantime was seized and in fact overtaken by other, more sensational events.
The IPL scandal and before that the much more juicy Sania Mirza and Shoahib wedding and the scandals attending to that event.
The visual media in India has come to play a decisive role lately.
The incumbent government, sensing the importance and its brand value seem to have also become cosy with the new media stars. Barkha Dutta and Rajdeep Sardesai have become almost official briefspersons, spokespersons for the ruling party’s many embarrassments!
P.Sainath, the Hindu newspaper man wrote a very heady edit-page article in which he brought about the very sense of the moment or the day. How, suddenly, the big league of private corporate interests, the shady gamblers and the cricket and Bollywood stars have been joined by some of the Cabinet and non-Cabinet ministers in the billionaires league.
Such is the plight of the UPA-II, with very slender majority or in fact in a minority, which has to carry these liabilities.
The ruling party leading lights (we needn’t name them) are everywhere in this game and the gamble! Sainath quotes mind-boggling numbers, as if the millions and billionions are small change for these heavyweight politicians!
Apart from the Sports minister, there are the junior foreign minister, his PA and other ministers, MPs including the heavy weight ruling party coalition partner and others.
The tragedy is that everyone, politicians in particular pretend to be sports lovers, (who are not?) and in the name of sports and cricket, black money is now openly playing a big role.
How this would affect democratic politics, how ethical is the government’s many minions conduct, it is for the top leaders to decide.
No! No more the top leaders are worthy of our trust.
The government’s morale and trust worthiness at lowest ebb, to put it in a more civilised language.
Now, the PM’s high-powered foreign tour. What India gained?
Of course any visit by the head of the government to foreign nations brings the needed goodwill. This is a gain.
But in the present context, the PM’s 7-day foreign tour proved to be a damp squib!
The PM spent, says an editorial in a leading national daily, 36 hours in Washington, just waiting to meet Obama who spent exactly 50 minutes! What emerged from this tour is that the US has a limited view of India in its foreign policy.US puts more emphasis on China for business and strategic reasons. India ranks low.
Terrorism, nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation etc, yes, they matter. But America sees those issues in clear and concrete terms.
India was not even invited; it was a blatant act, to the 11 nation non-aligned states, while India was the leader of NAM!
Please at least, from now onwards, take NAM seriously and do your diplomacy in an entirely refreshing old style Nehruvian idealism.
India must again become a great idea for Indians themselves! Let us do our homework first.
Let our media, our official broadcasting media be fashioned on the BBC model.
Broadcasting and Information, Culture and Sports need new ideas and new faces, among other things.
Let there be a debate about the relationships between the media and the government. Indian media is becoming more and more commercial and lost out in the emerging Indian scenario where visual media and print media and culture and sports must become national forces. As we see in advanced countries.