An East Delhi Citizen's Blog

general riff about politics, education, media, society, cricket..

Archive for the month “July, 2009”

We the unpatriotic

In the first signs of the “professionalization” of the PR and media management of Congress, Hindustan Times today signaled that it has all but been appointed the official PR mouthpiece of the party. With this, HT wins the race over such worthies like Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express and Vinod Mehta of Outlook, who have both tried very hard in the past ten days to push their candidature.

The first signal that HT was ahead in the race came when it got access to a carefully orchestrated exclusive leaks into the supposed dossier that Pakistan shared with India. How such documents are allowed to pass on to public domain, before being shared with Parliament with no need for anyone to even whisper RTI, beats me.

After all, the headline in today’s print edition: “India fights itself over Balochistan” is as good a piece of spin as any produced by top-notch PR agencies with their soul sold to the highest retainership. The headline attempts the oldest trick of all people of a certain description, to take refuge behind patriotism. Let’s speak with one voice, in foreign policy. Doing anything else is unpatriotic; Pakistanis will find us a house divided.

Says HT: “Unable to quarrel with the philosophy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Pakistan policy of ‘trust but verify’, the Opposition on Thursday focused its criticism on the inclusion of Balochistan in the Indo-Pak joint statement of July 16.” See the words? Opposition has a “quarrel” with the Prime Minister’s “philosophy”.

And, it gets better. The article, written by the “HT political Bureau”, then says: “The government strained to explain its position on Balochistan on a day it found oblique support from US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who refused to endorse the Pakistani position, and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani lauded Singh’s “statesmanship”……” Wah Janaab! So what if our PM is isolated domestically with even the Foreign Secretary conceding the “poor drafting” of the joint-statement? The Prime Minister of Pakistan is lauding his statesmanship. And we are such sticks-in-the mud.

Funnily, you get the feeling as if the entire “political bureau” of the HT sat down and wrote the article; one paragraph per person. In the middle of the article, there are references to the government “straining” to explain its position, a reference to Sushma Swaraj asking “how could a reference to Balochistan advance our national interest?” and Advani’s question on how a unilateral perception of Pakistan get into a joint statement without any mention of India’s position? Maybe there is a BJP mole (or two) in the HT edit team!

It ends with a coverage of Sonia Gandhi’s “carefully worded statement” who “stopped short of defending the (joint) statement“.


Now it is the turn of the rest of India

.. first Bengal, then India: Mamata’s Emosional Atyachaar

Many have celebrated Mamata’s ascendancy and indeed have watched with glee over the last few years how political opportunism mixed with total irresponsibility has become respectable, even mainstream in the state of West Bengal and have not blinked, because, the fire was burning elsewhere.

As Mamata free-wheeled through alliance-making; frst the BJP, then the SUCI and  Naxals and then with Congress, our political commentators were silent. It was all kosher; everything was fair game, we were told, if the Marxists can be removed from power in West Bengal.

As she and her rag-tag combine of has been actors (Shatabdi Roy and Tapas Paul), has been Marxist/ can still sing, if increasingly laden with scatology (Kabir Suman), has been in Congress, was expelled from Trinamool (Sudip Bandyopadhya) entertained Kolkata on 22nd July by ensuring a grateful city was spared a productive day in office, we must ask ourselves, in what way is she better than Mayawati or Jayalalithaa, politicians to whom she is often compared?

My fellow Indians, now our time has come. Now, we will pay the price for Mamata, as a nation. And, it will no longer be possible to ignore her.

I refer to the “Land Bill”, which was being brought in to replace a century old Colonial law which recognised only the role of the State in acquiring land for “public purpose”.

Mamata does not want this bill; every other political party is okay with it. Why? Because, this will be against the emotive, nihilistic and yet, electorally expedient stance she took in Singur and Nandigram.

So, what is the solution? After all, as Nirad Chaudhuri never tired of pointing out, Bengal loves going against the tide in the rest of the country; so what if such a stance is detrimental to progress.

There is a precedence. The Industrial Disputes Act of 1955 has specific sections which apply only to West Bengal. Perhaps, we can have the Land-Bill in the rest of the country, and have a “Mamata section” in the bill for West Bengal?

After all, why should the rest of India pay for the inability of the West Bengal voters to know what is good for them?

Will it stop at the Land Bill? My fear is, it will not.

The prevailing “wisdom” on disinvestment is Catch-22

We will disinvest; we will not. We will divest upto 49%; no, we will not.

We will disinvest when the time is ripe. Meaning, when the market is ruled by fools and everyone and his sabjiwala is buying stocks.

Here’s my reading:

1. By saying they will disinvest, only when the market is near its peak, the government has professed to be the ultimate stock market expert. They can actually predict the peak.

2. They have also said that it takes 8-9 months for a single disinvestment to go through; that’s the time it takes the government to do all the due-diligence, window-dress the books,  do a multi-country road-show and so on.

3. 1&2 read together tells you that this government will never disinvest in anything, because they will have to anticipate the theoretical market peak 8-9 months prior to it happening.

4. If any proof was ever needed, it is here that the 1st 5 years of soporific calm that this government displayed, was not due to being periodically hit on the “left” side of the head by blunt instruments wielded by Messr Karat and Yechury. The Congress government of Manmohan Singh, does not need any further help in muddle-headed thinking; they are quite capable of muddling along themselves, thank you.

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