Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Left Right Left

I do not really understand the by now mostly-famous, partially-notorious 123 Agreement between India and the US. And as far as I gather, even the most hard-nosed journalists reporting in the Indian media do not have a full grasp over it ( at least most begin their stories with disclaimers). So it makes me definitely sure that a layman (and here I talk about an average middle-class bloke with some interest in world and national affairs) cannot make much sense out of it. What is more interesting is that in a small survey in today's Hindustan Times, still one out of five of these blokes were against the deal (see below).

What I can make out is that the USA, led by a tyrannical president who for some reasons ( a mix of personal and strategic) loves India, and has reversed decades of policy and nuclear antagonism against India, to accommodate her strategic interests in the field of nuclear energy. The most-respected Economist magazine has some serious reservations against this exemption, mainly because while we and the Yankees can pride ourselves on our responsible international behaviour, the case is an exception to beat all global proliferation efforts.

The problem at home is different. We have a relatively artificial ruling coalition (the UPA), whose sole reason for existence is supposedly to keep Hindu fundamentalist forces (the NDA, led by the BJP) out of the power. (It is a different fact that these fundamentalist forces strengthened in response to minority appeasement, a trend that possibly continues with the recent Tasleema Nasreen attack episode,

The NDA, after taking India out of nuclear disguise (not such a smart move to my mind, because as Swaminathan Aiyer had put it then, it was uncertain whether the strategic benefits would sufficiently compensate for the sanction-economic losses). It is to NDA's credit that they not only managed to put the economy back on track (mainly because of favourable macro-economic conditions), but also put the relationship with the USA on an upward keel never seen before (doing away with years of antagonism that possibly kicked off under our founding leader, Nehru). The NDA also managed to get our missile scientist (and a middle-class hero) APJ Abdul Kalam elected as the President of India.

The Left parties opposed President Kalam only because he was supposedly the architect of India's nuclear bomb (and mind you, it is these very parties which had celebrated the Chinese nuclear explosion way back in the 60s). They put up their own dummy Presidential candidate who easily. And now it is these very parties, the great Nationalists guarding India's interests aginst the imperialist Americans,, who have thrown a spanner so bad in the Manmohan Singh-signed 123 Agreement that mid-term polls look like a matter of time. It is to Indian politics' shameful discredit that the BJP, led by their statesmen ex-PM Vajpayee, cannot compliment the Congress on finishing off their initiated project so efficiently. But this literal interpretation of the 'Opposition' is something we have come to live with in India.

My problem starts when all our bickering falls over into the international arena (what I call the country's corporate communication). I had posted similar thoughts on the same, India's Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen has rejected all the current dissidents rather disgracefully. But the moot point is clear, I might disagree with India's nuclear explosion in 1998, but if given the chance, it does not mean I start embarrassing the State of India. Similarly, Mani Shanker Aiyer might disagree with the Kalmadi-led IOA's bid for the Asian Games (and he had some valid points against the bid), but it does not mean that the Commonwealth Games, scheduled for 2010 in New Delhi, get sabotaged.

There is a clear-cut difference between disagreement (in formulating policy), and loss of face (in fulfilling commitments). More often than not, decision-making and action-taking in everyday India is a function of myriad supplementary reasons (for instance, we might marry within the same caste simply to stay integrated into the society, not really for individual happiness). And this problem seriously gets accentuated when it comes to politics (remember the introduction-from-nowhere of the Mandal Commission report by VP Singh, just to counter the political threat posed by Tau Devi Lal). I get more perturbed when this extends in to the international (Corp Comm) arena.

India is considered a rising superpower (a claim which the latest report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector has seriously punctured). What makes it worse is this constant dilly-dallying on a signed agreement by the elected executive government. How would we have felt if Churchill had questioned Atlee's Indian Independence Act once he returned to power in 1950.

We might have been argumentative through out our history (source, Amartya Sen). The problems begin when the beneficiaries of all these 123 argument can only be Pakistan (whom the RSS loathes) and China (whom the Left loved).

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