The weak and strong Prime Minister debate raises many critical issues!

The elections are in full swing. There is a fierce debate between the two contenders for the top jobs. L.K.Advani, the Opposition leader and Dr.Singh, the current holder of the high office are debating who is a strong Prime Minister. Advani is insistent and persistent in his attacks. He knows the weakness of the Prime Minister Singh. Singh has many credibility problems. First, he was not directly elected as the leader. He is a Prime Minister at the bidding of Sonia Gandhi. This, everybody knows. But now, at the time when the Congress led coalition itself is pulling in oppositive directions, Advani chose his vulnerable target.
In election and war, any means is justified..

Dr.Singh is very cagey when it comes to facing the realities of politics. After the TV news channels joined the debate and lined up veteran journalists and others, Dr.Singh chose a private news channel to talk and directly face the viewers and answer Advani’s questionings. I don’t think Dr.Singh managed to survive this relentless barrage of attacks by Advani.

But the major issue that would trouble the conscience of the nation is: is India itself a strong country? Is India led by a competent leader?

Is India taken seriously in the world forums?
Mr.Karan Thapar, in his popular feature, Devil’s Advocate and with Inder Malhotra and Chandan Mitra participating said that the Indian Prime Minister address the US President Barack Obama as “Sir”!This, according to the panelists is a shame for India’s prestige. This, Dr.Singh did, before when he met George Bush too.

And the PM lacks credibility. He is not seen as a morally upright person, his keeping a rent receipt to prove his citizenship residence in Assam is a fake. This, the Indian Prime Minister, a learned man, a supposed to be an honest man, shouldn’t do.

So, the Congress is batting on a thin wicket.
Not only that. India is not even talking out on many critical international issues.
India, now, tagged with China in international affairs.

Unfortunately, the record of Dr.Singh’s government in international affairs is very thin too.
The latest series of international meets, from the G-20 meets and later, even now in many of the forums, we don’t hear any Indian contribution that is mentioned or commented upon by the international media. But on the other hand, we see so many articles and even planted propaganda, even in the Indian media, in The Hindu, lately we see the Chinese development news and even anti-Dalai Lama propaganda is on the rise.

The Chinese Ambassador is received at The Hindu office and feted! Something unheard of in any other country!

Now, is China rising and the USA declining? We don’t see the debate in the Indian media. While we see the debate by vested interests, by the Western propagandists, very likely well-paid propagandists are planted in all the newspapers. The Hindu, again, carries routinely such propagandist writings.

India doesn’t have a very active press corps. We see the more popular and populist cheap, tabloid type newspapers that don’t care about such questions like the India’s image in international media. Rather, we Indians are very satisfied in reproducing the foreign inspired articles that are patently anti-Indian in tone but we don’t care to reproduce them, day in and day out.

Now, what about the debate over China vs. USA? China vs. India?
There is as we are informed by the foreign writers a new book by five nationalistic authors, named, Unhappy China. The book argues, it seems that China has no choice but to become a superpower! Fine! Let them become one! That seemed to be my instant answer!

But can China replace the USA as the superpower? In the near future? Or, in the foreseeable future?

Very unlikely. Here are my reasons, briefly, though we need to argue the matter in much more detailed manner.

First, the USA as it is, even in the midst of the worst financial crisis in the last80 years after the Great Depression, is still the most powerful nation. Not just in economic and military terms but also as a nation, as a society of advanced liberal values.
USA is a liberal and open democracy with all its faults. Let us remember. Let us not forget this basic truth.USA is also the most open economy, the very home of private sector capitalism, if you want to use such a phrase. Yet, it is the most powerful economy, market economy, free-market economy and the very fact it is a free-market economy it had to endure the financial speculations and also the current crisis and  only by adopting the policies of recovery, the USA and the rest of the world is likely to recover ,not by any other means.

China, first and foremost, is a Communist state and a dictatorship, a single party controlled dictatorship where any of the signs of liberal society, free press or freedom of expression or any other such mark of an advanced society is absent.

This is the most critical aspect of the Chinese society and politics.
Now, on the other hand, India is the world’s largest, biggest democracy. A democracy, unlike any other democracy, not even the oldest democracies can come near Indian achievement, a wonder of the world.

India is a very open society; its electoral process is another wonder. Even the US electoral process is not as clean and as open and as trust worthy and transparent.
Let us then remember, dear Indians, that we are the most advanced liberal democracy on the planet!

So, we, Indians must seek to get our values right. Get our vision right.
I don’t mind who is the Prime Minister. Of course Dr.Singh has devalued the office of the Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi is no less guilty. She had contributed no less for making India a devalued nation in the eyes of the world. She has chosen wrong persons for the great offices.

She has also destroyed the Indian National Congress by her lack of grasp, lack of understanding. She is too small person for too big a calling.
In spire of all these short-comings, I am confident that India can stand up to the great challenges of the day.

In the international affairs, India must play a more active role. A more visible role.
This is my submission. I invite concerned citizens to respond.

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Any meaningful development strategy must start with girl-child
Centric programmes. World Bank reports on anti-poverty measures, urbanisation etc
There are many new things to learn fro Indians

The World Bank’s latest report, titled “Moving out of Poverty: Success from the Bottom Up “makes interesting reading.

For Indians this must not be news but for the typical Indian mindset, accustomed to look for the government for everything, from  mere security to livelihood, government jobs and much else, Indians have a heavy luggage of the British rule, or call it oppression or suppression of our rights and even our souls!

Yes, the British legacy of making us a very dependent people, a people who have never experienced what was freedom or living with a sense of independence, the World Report makes for a sad reading, if at all.

So, we have to read through to learn what we have to do these days, even today, the government in Delhi plays the role of a protector of the poor and never imagines that the people can prosper on their own initiatives!

The Bank lists to three initiatives that helped people to lift themselves out of poverty.
All the top three steps were non-agricultural. That is the lesson here too!
What the typical Indian poor do?

They just look for daily labour under any one of the government schemes for anti-poverty.
Not here. We learn that finding a job outside agriculture, investing in a business, just petty business to something more substantial; to migration to the urban areas constitute 60.1 per cent of the respondents. Individual initiatives in agriculture, typically, it looks that just 17.4 per cent attempted and saving, called asset accumulation only 4.7 per cent managed to engage and succeed.

At the bottom of the three segments, consist of depending upon assistance from NGOs and such non-formal and unofficial segments of society help. Or, we can call these attempts as plain charities! Illegal activities, yes, these activities too help!).1 per cent resort to these activities! Lottery or seeking luck also engages the minds of people! Yes, they are put in bracket, as 0.0 percent!

The study rightly observes:”Charity oriented and other paternalistic programmes or handouts from the government or from corporates or some such big organisations and associations also play a role in poverty-reduction!

The study notes that such voluntary help doesn’t help people in the long run; they are temporary or at best in the short run.

To life the entire community or a nation, we need, says the report, other and more realistic schemes and programmes.

Yes, in the 70s, says the report, there was widespread poverty globally. Now, according to the World Development Report, 2008, more than one fourth of the world poor are still there and this figure demands now we need for realistic programmes to tackle poverty in a sustained manner.

But the World Bank study, the latest one, is rather very piecemeal and doesn’t suggest anything that is really based on sound observation or sound reasoning.
For one thing, in a country like India, at this stage of our development, we see the rather election-oriented populist anti-poverty programmes, mainly in the nature of many freebies, free or subsidised rice of such a minim for every family, or free education to many such free offering even such a promise like paying the girl child when she reaches age 18 a sum of Rs.1 lakh.

Yes, such election-driven promises and handouts help in a democratic setup, as big as in India and what makes sense in India must make more sense in smaller countries and smaller economies.

Today, from the point of view of anti-poverty programmes and also anti-oppressive and suppressive social realities, any bottom-up development must start with the girl child as the starting point.

A girl-child centric development in whatever form, of course education must come first, and then must come such anti-schemes like anti-child labour abolition and also giving security to the girl-child at every stage of her schooling and marriage and such acts like the prevention of child marriages and other schemes like anti-dowry and anti-domestic violence etc.

India must do its own homework, dont look for outside advice!
There are record food stocks, prices okay and the government is doing what is possible to ensure food security.

There is, however, room for cheer in the Indian economic scene! Yes, there is credit crunch and this is more severe in the farm sector.

There are predictions that the processed food sector won’t grow as much as hoped for and the exports from for the processed foods and also for other food grains as bad as one could expect for the rest of the Indian goods and services.

Elections apart, there is the general world conditions.

The developed countries, the G-7 are more severely impacted. The industrialised economies, the IMF notes, have been severely affected since the time of the world war 11.The US economy is the hardest hit and so too others.

As for India we come in the category of the G-20 and it is noted that for these countries, including India, the IMF notes the contraction of the world economy and output is likely to be between 0.5% and 1%.For the USA and the rest of the G-7, the contraction of the economy would be between 3.0 to 3.5 %, the IMF says.

So, the countries in the developing world are relatively better placed. This is good news, we believe.

But for the agriculture sector, it is now widely reported and editorials are written in the major business dailies. They all say there is a mix of many policies, more in the nature of the protectionist economies. There is a ban virtually on all foograins exports, rice and wheat are banned. There is also in the reverse a near zero duty import tariff for raw sugar. The sugar industry is almost up in protest and the area under sugarcane can be further reduced owing to this “free” imports of raw sugar.

But then, there is a need to keep a tight control over the domestic prices on all essential commodities of common consumption. Sugar is a critical daily item of consumption for the vast population.

So, for the present even the futures trading in agricultural commodities are controlled to avoid further speculation in these commodities and hence the changes that further rise in food prices can be controlled. This is what is happening.

So, what is good for the developed countries, stimulus packages to stimulate spending and create confidence, in countries like India there is need to maintain a stable price regime first for the food economy, so that the common man’s perception of the economic recession is kept far from one of gloom and fall in confidence in the government?

Fortunately, the elections and the parties and even the politicians, more out of narrow selfishness rather than the concern for the common man economic recession and the consequences, fall in real estate or  further import of edible oils and pulses or raw sugar or any other item of common man’s needs are freely resorted to even if it means further government spending and further incurring of deficits and more delayed time in the economic recovery.

There is fear that very soon; if not already there is deflation that is further decline in consumer spending.

The time of economic recession is one when great leadership and confidence-building measures are called for.

In India we have a government and a Prime Minister who is supposed to be a great economist; we don’t find any public enlightenment.

There is, if any, total silence and no other competent leaders, either from the ruling combines or from the Opposition ranks, including from the otherwise vocal Communists, there is no bother about how the economy over all is doing or not doping.

So, what we, the public, have to perceive is the small sings, here and there and we have to feel confident from the small mercies from the private sector.

One good news is the latest introduction of the Tata small car, Nano. The timing is significant. As one leading daily reported this is the third stimulus package! Already the introduction of the small car has raised the market sentiments, there is, it is noted, some raise in the stock market track, as much as 5 % on the day of the small car induction. This sentiment has come nearly after three months as a single day’s gain.

So, there is the new stimulus. That is a big gain considering what the other developing countries are reporting.

Why even in Europe, notably, in France, where the small car had been an obsession with the Renault Logan, which had been long hailed as the best small car ever introduced in the automobile-crazy Western Europe. As the French newspapers have all demonstrated unconcealed envy and skepticism ,the Indians must be feeling somewhat elated and also encouraged by the success the Indian economy at this stage of development had  demonstrated.

The other sectors that stand apart from the rest of the world is the IT sector, the key strategic sector in the world today.

The Indian IT sector, though impacted by the current recession and also the concerns over what the US tries to do, to protect the American workers, the latest deals made by the major IT industries show there is still much room for the Indians to gain a significant control over this sector.

So, whatever Obama’s initial promises to protect the American jobs, his policy has to respond to the ground realities.

The cost advantage for the American companies would drive further the trend towards off-loading many jobs to low cost destinations.

India’s great key advantages is its human resources and it is here we need some imaginative initiatives. The government must better consult the IT leaders in drawing up polices to enhance the competitive advantages of this sector. So, the current economic recession, while it causes much concern in such sectors like the export front, there is much effort is needed to manage the economy to steer it out of the present crisis.

Delusion of persecution and self-importance!
This is according to the Oxford dictionary!

Why Indians have this mental disorder? Yes, paranoia is a mental disorder, says the same dictionary!

Now, the point is why Indians praise other countries? Blackout some others? And also find some mental satisfaction of a negative kind by not writing more about our own achievements or make a realistic assessment or believe in our own capacity to self-analyse ourselves?

A case in point is that when it comes to praising China, there is a section of the media and also the academic community in this country, including the academics, the NRIs based in the USA and elsewhere, we see they praise China and don’t give the Indians the needed background information on a whole lot of realities within China itself.
And also consider this. We Indians now don’t know a thing about what is happening inside Russia, do we? And yet there is no such interest or enthusiasm to know or report on the internal situation in Russia.

We don’t know anything about agriculture or the villages in Russia. While there is a great deal of reporting and even biased talks and assessments about the achievements in China.

Just now we saw this report in the much admired The Hindu newspaper. That too reported by its own editor-in chief Mr.N.Ram. This report has appeared in the paper dated February 27, 2009.

It is about Tibet. The title of the report is: Tibet on road of rapid uplift: N.Ram
Fine. Now, what is the content of the report?

It is obviously a biased or even a motivated and who knows it might be even a paid insert.
Because the opening passage itself gives out the game.”A prominent Indian journalist rejected” Tibetan Independence propaganda”, saying thee region’s economic growth was good and the atmosphere was relaxed”.

The report continues:”The problems are largely in the minds of some sections abroad, in make-believe Tibet”, and in the propaganda of the pro-independence movement of the Dalai Lama” “N.Ram, Editor in Chief of The Hindu, a leading English daily, told Xinhua in Beijing.

“Mr.Ram’s comments came after he concluded a three day visit to southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region earlier that week. It was his third visit to China since 2000”
Then Ram says and this is the report:

“People asked why I went to Tibet again and again, said Mr.Ram, attributing the visit to his interest to do a reality check”

Then the report continues:”Mr.Ram described how the Dalai Lama, “the so-called Tibetan government in exile” were active in India and some other countries claiming  Tibetans were being reduced to a minority by the Han people and proclaiming a Greater Tibet with a population of six million”.

Then the Indian editor goes on to explain how Tibet today is on the road towards a rapid economic development, from the capital city Lhasa to underdeveloped villages, schools, orphanages and factories.

So, Ram is clearly on a propaganda mission on behalf of the Chinese government.
What interest the Indian readers, the Indian people would have in knowing the economic statistics, population statistics and much about the celebration of their new year etc.
He drove widely, it seems and had seen the much progress by his very same eyes.
This is the sort of writing we used to read long ago whenever visitors from India or from elsewhere went to Soviet Russia and came back.

It is a real tragedy that Indians now at the time and this age still are being led by a paranoia of the worst kind.

We either praise the USA or the West or go to the other extreme of praising the much oppressive society like the Chinese, and the government with no political party except the one and only one of the most controlled variety and now we still find it very clever or intelligent to visit China and praise China and compare the rest of the world in some unfavourable light, including India!

This is what most of the  Indian intelligentsia who claim to be leftists and Marxists, even those high profile Indian academics who labour hard to retain their reputation at Harvard or some such prestigious universities back at home. These visiting academics come once a while and lecture Indians how they should mind their business!

Who else goes to China and who can dare speak about India’s progress, India’s agriculture and our own rural development programes.

None at present, it seems.

We have also a dubious type of government machinery here, headed by the very same type of economic experts, all World Bank employees now cosying up under the dispensation of Sonia Gandhi and what a pity India is an orphan when it comes to articulating India’s very many unique strengths and at the same time we have to put up with these traitors and traitor-like behaviour of the Indian intelligentsia.

We need a new definition of the Indian paranoia. This entrenched Indian mental disorder where we find Indians go out of the way to praise China or the USA and at the same time, we don’t find Indians courageous enough to seek a balance when it comes to taking an objective account of the state of developments, say, in Russia or South Korea or China itself, whenever we want to find out how we are progressing in this country on certain of the crucial sectors of the economy and society.

Opportunistic alliances cut across principles and credibilties of parties and leaders!
So, parties can throw away all principles? All arty leaders can dream of Prime Ministerial ambitions
?

Which party has some commitment to India as one country? One strong country?
It is rather embarrassing to listen to L.K.Advani calling for a strong leadership and a decisive government! The Congress seems to be simply mumbling!

The Indian National Congress, as the oldest party that led the country Independence, must have some basic parameters when it enters into alliances with other parties for the sake of winning elections and forming the government at the Centre.

Unfortunately, the Congress today is not what it used to be all these years. Under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership for the past 10 years, it is for everyone to see that the party has become almost progressively  weakened and in some of the major states, where it was once a force, the party has almost become so weak so as to say that it now non-existent.
This is the case with UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and some other states.Even where it is in power, say, in AP and Rajasthan, the rival parties in these states are now ell-entrenched. In AP, the rivals are too serious challengers. Both Chandrababu Naidu and actor Chiranjeevi are sure to grow further and this is the pattern we see in other states as well. In UP, the Congress is almost not a serious contender vs. SP and Mayawati and even the BJP. In Bihar, it is a sad spectacle to see Lalu Prasad Yadav and Paswan playing this last-minute “dirty” game! One doesn’t know how Sonia Gandhi reacted. As for Tamil Nadu we can say with confidence, Sonia Gandhi has made the state unit of the party, a state where stalwart leaders like Rajaji and Kamaraj gave all-India leadership to the party, almost a branch unit of the DMK which is running almost wild with conquering the rivals in all parties and everyday, it is a game, poaching the senior leaders from the MDMK and other parties and malcontents rushing to join and shine in the reflected glory and the glee of the DMK’s machinations.

The TN Congress leaders are evenly divided into four or five factions and the allotment of MP seats are done in such a way that each faction leader gets one seat for himself and one for, hopefully, to his son or daughter!

Yes, the dynastic politics is played out so blatantly and the fact that Sonia Gandhi practices this cult of family heirs taking over from their parents once the time comes is perhaps the lowest level of a degenerate political culture which Mrs.Gandhi practices with no forethought whatever.

This is the danger that faces the Indian democracy today.
What is worrying by the latest developments in the pre-poll alliances is the way the regional and smaller parties are doing is to throw out from their minds and calculations any thought about the larger India. India as a great democracy and India as a great regional world power and as such it has its own challenges. Pakistan is passing a new set of threats and uncertainties. China is also posing a threat to India’s territorial integrity; Tibet is one more additional reason for China to remain hostile to India. India’s nuclear ambitions, India’s aspiration to enter the UN Security Council and many such border issues have seen China not being friendly to India.

There are many other subtle and not so subtle reasons to suspect that given a chance, China may not hesitate to poke its nose in India’s internal affairs.

It is here, we have to see the “evil” thoughts and evil designs of some of the India’s parties, most notably the CPI (M) and the CPI and other Left parties. The news that the CPI (ML) would contest in some 80 constituencies must give us some thought for concern.

Who knows that if some opportunity arises, the Left combined with the other adventurous parties, including the regional parties that are plainly separatist in their mindset, the whole of the Dravidian parties can be brushed with such a paint and even the current constituents of the Dravidian parties in the Congress alliance are these ones who may not hesitate to take some irresponsible steps to disrupt and cause disintegrating activities.
So, what is the point of the Congress, to take the specific case of Tamil Nadu, joining hands with the DMK, the PMK and the VCK and giving seats to these parties and individuals who, the IB and the RAW must be knowing enough about these parties and the individuals, and making them to cause future damage to the polity?

We have been urging Mrs.Gandhi through various forums and means to stand by some basic ideology of the grand old party. We have been reminding Mrs.Gandhi of the fact that as a party of some 125 year old history of sacrifice and principles, the Congress must state its basic belief system clearly and must openly ask its current and likely future potential allies, these allies are now with the party only to seek ministerial positions and indulge in corruption and anti-national acts only.

So, it is now a blessing that in UP and Bihar, SP and the RJD had ditched the Congress.
This must at least jolt the complacent nature of the functioning of the party to spell outs its position.

Unless this is done rightaway, there is still greater danger lurking in the days ahead.
And another point is the Prime Ministerial ambitions of the men and women in the Congress party and also those among the allies.

Surely, it doesn’t show any wisdom to say anymore that Dr.Singh will continue as the next Prime Minister also. This is blatant affront to the world’s largest democracy.
Congress party must openly say that the next Prime Minister would be openly elected in the Parliamentary Party meeting and anyone individual who enjoys some sort of consensus in the party, almost in the AICC and also as far as possible through an informal referendum in the largest party forums and the consensus candidate must be declared elected as the next Prime Minister.

Rahul Gandhi is too young and too unprepared and so he can at best become a minister in the next cabinet. He has to wait for his time.

Sonia Gandhi’s own future needs some articulation.
Any party leader has to make way for others after a decent interval. Such an interval has come now. After the elections, after the formation of the government, Sonia Gandhi must take a back seat and nominate and better still help someone to context and get elected as the next President.

Some of the old time Congressmen, I mean, the genuine Kamaraj followers I have spoken to in Chennai, say how the old Congress party was functioning in a democratic manner even under Gandhiji. There were leaders who could defeat Gandhiji’s own nominees!  Such was the democratic traditions of the Congress.

So, Sonia Gandhi also must be open enough to give the Indian people their right to get the best leadership of the great party.

Let others play their own roles, the allies and other party leaders.
Third front government is unfeasible, given Indian polity’s diversity. And the past experience with the Third front governments.

The Congress-BJP governments are the only possibility.
In fact, we have to warn about the dangers of falling into the trap laid by the Communists!

Patriotic forces must be alerted and mobilised. This is a task for the Congressmen, more so the sections that feel left out by the Sonia Gandhi and her sycophantic circle!

After all BJP by any stretch of imagination can’t be said to be unpatriotic!
Yes, in tough situations we have to talk some tough realities!

Image Source: hinduonnet.com