Monday, November 22, 2010

Master Manipulator Manmohan running short of tricks

Time seems to be finally catching up with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, an underestimated politician and perhaps an overestimated economist. In today’s scenario that he has landed vis-à-vis 2G spectrum, one wishes it is proved wrong, that he is also an ‘overestimated’ honest man! At least, politically, he is not.
The handling of Rs 1.76 lakh crore scam proves that point rather convincingly. Well, the practical argument is he and the Congress party leadership – of virtuous Rahul Gandhi and saint Sonia (sic) – was arm-twisted by DMK. So was the left with regard the Nuclear deal with the United States. But on that Congress and Dr Singh claimed to have taken a principled stand “in national interest”, did not succumb to Prakash Karat pressure; but on 2G spectrum the story was different. Why?

But no longer. The façade is not working anymore.
Till date, Dr Singh used to enjoy the best of the world. While Sonia Gandhi got her share of blame – from time to time for political mishandling or so; an helpless Pranab Mukherjee sweat it out to convince partners, opposition parties and party men as the chief troubleshooter. On the other hand, Dr Singh gave unto himself the role of enjoying the power --- somewhat a Brahminical power without responsibilities.

The responsibilities, he implied was of Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee, ironically his boss many years ago.
But the tested adage of P V Narasimha Rao – law will take its own course – has now caught up with Dr Singh. It’s the law which is inferring that he has erred in handling the 2G spectrum issue in more ways than one.

Having said these, one needs to point at certain internal issues within Congress and how the party has itself to be blamed for the present impasse.

The special steering committee meet on November 3, 2010 concentrating solely on RSS bashing and leaving corruption fungus in the safety of AICC cupboards should haunt it any day.

There is already talk about slowly and certain but minor scuffle between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the party – even if not Congress president Sonia Gandhi herself.
She is still considered too powerful for ‘non-political’ character like Dr Singh, though his admirers and adversaries feel slowly the ‘underestimated’ politician in him is showing some glimpses of verb.
Into his second year since 2009, perhaps, he is trying to be little more forceful and persuasive in pushing his personal preferences. Grapevine is a senior parliamentarian from Andhra Pradesh was denied the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post in 2009 even after his name was cleared formally by UPA alliance in a joint sitting.

If the conjectures are to be believed, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and even top Congress leaders had reportedly complimented the said member for being chosen for the coveted office in June 2009; when Dr Singh threw in the Dalit-woman card to elevate his ‘Water Resources Minister’ Meira Kumar for the key job. Kumar was already sworn in as Minister and also allocated portfolio.

There are elements in Congress party who suggest that even while allocating the portfolios, Dr Singh was little more aggressive this time unlike 2004. Making Anand Sharma the commerce minister is seen as Dr Singh’s personal intervention as a special case. Similarly, when A Raja and Prithviraj Chavan moved out of his ministry, all their portfolios were passed on to another trusted lieutenant of Dr Singh, Kapil Sibal. Anand Sharma and Sibal are reportedly being rewarded for backing Manmohan Singh during turbulent days of nuclear deal with the US “by going out of the way”.

Dr Singh’s admirers are reported to have floated the theory that the 2009 mandate for UPA was in effect a mandate for him.
He is the real TINA, there is no alternative, before the Congress party.
His media advisor has already spoken against Congress in a public function; and yet continues to enjoy the Prime Minister’s confidence.
On November 16, 2010 itself, the Supreme Court posed a question for the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh why he delayed in giving sanction for prosecuting Raja for his alleged involvement in Rs 1,70,000 crore 2G Spectrum scam. "For good governance, there must be some time-limit for granting sanctions, if not three months. But 11 months is too long," said the Supreme Court.
"Why was there alleged inaction and silence on the part of the sanctioning authority who is the Prime Minister. Application should have been dealt with urgently. The facts are self speaking," the two-judge bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly remarked.
"I don't recall any incident in the past 60 years of the Supreme Court making such remarks against the PMO. And I believe that the Prime Minister should respond to the Supreme Court immediately," said Advani.
The CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury demanded that the Prime Minister should get his act together on the bizarre episode. Supreme Court has also rightly questioned the manner P J Thomas was appointed as CVC.

Prime Minister needs to do so explanation. The date with destiny could be around and cannot be postponed for ever. India’s heart today beats for some of these explanations!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama praises Gandhi, focusses on Indian agro-energy issues

It would be a red letter day, November 8, 2010 for the central hall of Indian parliament as Barack Obama becomes the 4th US president to address the esteemed audience comprising of Indian law makers and other dignitaries.
The US president Mr Barack Obama seemed to have adoped a multi-pronged approach to focus on his India policy going beyond the conventional sense of the terms like economic cooperation and trade and instead has indcated towards addressing the core issues of India's priority areas like energy and agriculture.
In his address to the joint session of parliament at the central hall,
Mr Obama said both the countries sharing several commonality,
strengths and challenges can work together in three vital areas. ".... as global partners we can promote prosperity in both our countries. Together, we can create the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future," he said
adding with his visit the stage is already set for beginning the much
talked about implementation of civil nuclear agreement.
"This will help meet India’s growing energy needs and create thousands
of jobs in both our countries," President Obama said even as he
stressed on the need to forge partnerships in high-tech sectors like defense and civil space. He also said, the US administration has "removed" Indian organizations from so-called “entity list" and both the countries can work together to reform "our controls on exports".
On the agriculture front, he has sought to address the growing
challenge of Indian farmers in the form of getting more accurate
weather predictions.
"Together, we’re going to improve Indian weather forecasting systems
before the next monsoon season,' he made a virtual pledge before
Indian law makers
and said his government aims to help millions of Indian farming
households save water and increase productivity; improve food
processing, avoid wastage of
food produces and enhance climate and crop forecasting to avoid losses
that cripple communities and drive up food prices.
In a much innovative measure, he also said, US will share "India’s
expertise with farmers in Africa" to meet the demand of global food
security. "This is an indication of India’s rise—that we can now
export hard-earned expertise to countries that see India as a model
for agricultural development,' he said.
He said his country would also work together with India to make the
country's second agricultural revolution called 'Evergreen Revolution'
more successful and
sustainable.
Earlier in the day, India's 'Monsoon Mission' had received a shot in
the arm with the signing of a pact that will enable its scientists to
use American models to better forecast rainfall. Under the pact,
signed on the sidelines of the visit of US President Barack Obama,
scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) will
be able to use the Model Climate Forecast System 2.0 of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for monsoon prediction.
The agreement provides for setting up of a 'monsoon desk' in NOAA
under which one scientist at the American organisation would be
exclusively earmarked for consultations with his Indian counterpart.
"We will start using the model on an experimental basis from next year
to predict the Indian monsoon," Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh
Nayak said.
Other salient feature was his glowing tributes to Indian pristine past and
the Father of the Nation, peace apostle Mahatma Gandhi.
Paying glowing tributes to the resilience of India as a new global player as well as its pristine glories and ‘treasured past’, the US president exuded confidence that
“the relationship between the United States and India—bound by our shared interests and values—will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
‘This is the partnership I have come here to build. This is the vision that our nations can realize together,” he said.
On India’s traditional oriental values, he said “India not only opened our minds, she expanded our moral imagination” and went onto observe that even his (Obama’s personal) “confidence in our shared future” is grounded in his respect for India’s treasured past—a civilization that has been shaping the world for thousands of years. “Indians unlocked the intricacies of the human body and the vastness of our universe. And it is no exaggeration to say that our information age is rooted in Indian innovations—including the number zero,” he said.
President Obama praised the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and noted his influence on Martin Luther King and the non-violent resistance that exemplified the American civil rights movement. "I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as president of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared and inspired with America and the world," Mr Obama said
On a rare personal note, he said for him and his wife Michelle, the US president said this visit has held ‘special meaning’. “Throughout my life, including my work as a young man on behalf of the urban poor, I have always found inspiration in the life of Gandhiji and in his simple and profound lesson to be the change we seek in the world.”
Pointing out both the nations share the same commonalities like strong democracies with revolutionary commitment towards “we the people”, he said there were wide range of global issues and for a where both sides and the by working together can make immense contributions.

But all said and done and keeping the rhetoric aside, we Indians should understand that he needs to catch hold of India more with the resolute grip of a friend in need. The US today is no longer what it used to be,
all powerful. And true to Obama's own words, India has already 'emerged' in the global scene. One urnestly hopes, Dr Manmohan Singh's government does not crawl before the Americans at a time when he can show some firmness and probably US needs India more than we need the Americans.

(ends)