Sunday, January 25, 2015

Win-Win Nuke deal and Modi musters US ‘snub’ against Pakistan

What has Narendra Modi achieved by visit of ‘Barack’ and the vice versa?

The breakthrough in Nuclear deal owing to 'personal chemistry' between the two leaders would be virtual life saver for the Americans as this would help create much needed jobs in the US and help grow the drooping US economy.

For India this means ending a three-decade ban on nuclear trade. This means the US and India can engage in nuclear commerce, and cooperate on major international security issues. India actually would provide the US market access for peaceful nuclear technology worth over $150 billion.
Experts say by promoting nuclear energy, the U.S-India Nuclear Deal will ease global demand for crude oil and natural gas thereby lowering oil prices too. In two decades time as the world-wide demand for power will increase manifold, the Indo- U.S. Nuclear Deal will help in the fight against global warming by providing a viable, cleaner alternative for electricity production over coal.
Barack Obama, world’s most powerful President, has played a perfect guest. In the end the joint statement gave in the ultimate mileage the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to achieve vis-à-vis the relationship with the United States ever since he came to power winning a huge mandate.

The biggest take away for Modi from the President Obama’s visit is perhaps more in the sub-continent level context, that is counter terror front against Pakistan than the hyped media reportage about the ‘breakthrough’ in the stalled Nuclear deal – that would unlock billions of dollars in nuclear trade. 

The para 41 of the Joint Statement by both sides stating that both “the leaders reaffirmed the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt entities such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company and the Haqqani Network, and agreed to continue ongoing efforts through the Homeland Security Dialogue as well as the next round of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism in late 2015 to develop actionable elements of bilateral engagement” – actually gives enough reason to the Indian side to take pride about.

If this was not enough, the subsequent portions reading: “The President (Obama) and the Prime Minister (Modi) further agreed to continue to work toward an agreement to share information on known and suspected terrorists” seals the deal.

It’s a real test case of win-win situation for the Modi regime, which is undoubtedly building enough international pressure on Pakistan where both alleged non-state players and state agencies namely the ISI and the military over the decades have given support to terror groups.
Obama endorses 'Chae pe charcha'
This could provoke some heart burns in Pakistan and also certain strong reactions from across the border.
Besides the counter terror front, of course the nuclear breakthrough would mark a major salient feature of the bonhomie.

The new deal resolved differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the event of a nuclear accident and U.S. demands on tracking the whereabouts of material supplied to the country. Apparently till the last minute the official level interlocutors could not thrash out a unanimity and it required one-on-one between the two nation heads to achieve that over Modi’s ‘Chai pe charcha’.
As expected, the Congress practicing politicians and apologists for the grand old party have got busy singing laurels of Dr Manmohan Singh’s initiatives on the same in 2008 when he even staked the very survival of his government and had annoyed the communists. But that’s a history even if on positive realm and since UPA-2, Dr Siingh had failed to carry it forward.
Thus, despite reservations of the anti-Modi campaigners, the incumbent Prime Minister deserves the kudos.

Signaling warmth and determination to take ties to a higher level, Modi has left the gory past of 2005 Visa row much behind. "Meri aur Barack ke bich dosti ban gayi.....hae.(I have able to stuck a personal friendship with Barack Obama...personal chemistry matters)", Modi said

The United States has hailed the Obama visit and breakthrough in the stalled civil nuke deal calling it potentially transitional if not transformational moment for the relationship.

For its part, over the last few years the US has been often frustrated with the slow pace of India’s economic growth especially under Dr Manmohan Singh and typical unwillingness to side with it. A crisis-ridden economy that America is today, the United States views India as a vast market and hopes the potentials would be tapped now.
That is the significance of Indo-US deal.  
"The nuclear deal announced today makes billions of dollars in trade possible for US companies that want to build and invest in India….That creates jobs in the US and helps grow our economy," aptly said Congressman Ami Bera, part of the US presidential delegation to India. (ends)

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Capital Fight: Who'll win? Middle Class or Freebies beneficiaries?

Kiran Bedi’s induction into BJP and to project her as BJP's chief ministerial face for Delhi is actually based on a good script but as expected all good script actions finally offer hurdles. The high drama enacted in front of Delhi BJP office was just as per expectations to many top guns in BJP including Amit Shah. 

More than any love for Kiran Bedi and her crusader style of functioning, the choice was only out of political compulsions and thus stands a gamble!

Albeit the February 10, the counting day, would only prove whether the gamble paid off dividends or otherwise. It is believed that a pragmatic politician that he is, it was Arun Jaitley, who first suggested that Delhi needed a "strong Chief Minister" and voters would like BJP to project a good saleable face. They had none from city unit.

Delhi city unit president Satish Upadhaya has been too run-of-the-mill variety with several limitations and thus not acceptable even to a large section of Delhi’s past and possible BJP voters.

Till January 15, 2015; certainly AAP stood in an envious advantageous situation. Foremost of all, it had a chief ministerial candidate and Kejriwal had hit the ground running with his pet ‘free (or declined) power tariff’ and his pledge to “expose” BJP leaders. Upadhaya’s controversial business and share holdings as director in companies those supplied electric bill meters to Reliance Power-run BSES only made things further complicated for BJP.

After naming Satish Upadhaya as chairman of the campaign committee, for about 36 hours, as tirade against Upadhaya mounted, the BJP was pushed to a back foot.
Truly, this happens rarely with Narendra Modi, who is known for being an aggressive
game and unorthodox style.

“Oh, we have so many Vijays in Delhi BJP”, reportedly PM Modi said at a closed door meeting attended among others by Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah. It was certainly a caustic remark. Modi had long back decided to chart out a different roadmap to revive Delhi BJP’s electoral fate and thus had entrusted party managers first to “ease out” Vijay Goel, then Delhi BJP president. Thus Goel was pushed to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.

Subsequently in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Modi ordered that new faces should be tried out in Delhi and thus the likes of party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, Dalit leader Udit Raj, actor Manoj Tiwari, North East Delhi MP were tried out. The experiments paid well with BJP picking up all 7 seats. 
This upset Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s applecart and also ensured a sweet revenge against Congress as Sonia Gandhi’s party had won all 7 seats in 2009.

In May 2014 after Dr Harsh Vardhan was taken in as the Health Minister, Modi along with new BJP President Amit Shah worked in details. An unenthusiastic Ram Lila ground crowd to Modi's rally left BJP leadership rattled. Key BJP leaders shared PM's concern about disunity in Delhi unit. In one such meetings, the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reminded party colleagues that in 1998 also the factional feuds had resulted in defeat when Swaraj was the incumbent chief minister and face of Delhi BJP.

It may be recalled after humbling defeat that ensured Congress under Sheila Dikshit storm into power in November 1998 polls, Sushma had said, "ghar ka aag lag gayi...ghar ki chirag se (The internal feuds have cost us the elections severely)".

On the other hand, we have a Self-styled Anarchist. Arvind Kejriwal as Delhi Chief Minister almost wrote his political obituary when he drafted his resignation letter.

Politically, he is yet to display the political maturity. Perhaps like many of his admirers who supported the anti-corruption movement, Kejriwal only sounds a confused bargainer.
His party carried a poster, “Modi for PM, Arvind Kejriwal for CM’. This was like a self-goal. Again there came another self-defeating exercise. Kejriwal's compatriots like Kumar Vishwas in their enthusiasm to take pot shot at Kiran Bedi said, the former cop was always a BJP sympathiser. Even as BJP spokespersons like Sambit Patra and GVL Narasimha Rao have attacked AAP for such antics, a real political question is; will such slogans finally write him off.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

March on Young Mizo Association

Founded way back in 1935, the Young Mizo Association has come a long way and in the process negotiated with various ups and downs in the politics of youth uprising, but the year 2014 would be a remarkable year for itself. 
In Mizoram or interacting with Mizos one would often face a rather succinctly made remark, “If Young Mizo Association (YMA) did not exist, we would have to invent it”. 

I tend to agree with this.

Originally founded as Young Lushai Association (YLA) ever since I have been following YMA perhaps also with other youth organizations in north-east like Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU),  I have found it functioning slightly differently. Looking at them one could easily reflect upon the Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s statement: “A revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner or writing an essay or painting a picture or embroidering a flower…”.

Founded in 1935, YMA (or YLA) has been striving hard to work for the people particularly in the field of ‘cultural conservation’ of the Mizo tribe.

Over the years it has been working on various socio-cultural issues like alcoholism and forest conservation; and accordingly, the good works have been recognized too.

The latest such a high-level admiration came from none other than the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, who in 2013 conferred on YMA leadership the prestigious National Award for Outstanding Service in the field of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse as the "Best Non-Profit Institution" from the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India. The award carries a medal, a citation and a cash award of Rs 4 lakh.

Earlier, from time to time the YMA has been recipient of other
such awards like Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Awards (1986), Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar of 1993 from the union Ministry of Environment and Forests and also the Excellence Service Award from the Government of Mizoram for the three consecutive years, in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

But of all its achievements perhaps a most significant one was in 2013-2014 when it worked ceaselessly to ensure release of Deep Mondal, abducted by Bru extremists and the NLFT cadres and kept in captivity for more than 50 days in Bangladesh.
Mondal hailing from West Bengal was in Mizoram in connection with his job with a telecom service provider.
Reports from Aizawl in November 2013 had said that Mondal was abducted along with two native Mizos — Sanglianthanga and Lalzamliana — from interiors Mamit district.
While the two Mizos were released first by January 22nd , 2014  Mondal had continue to remain in captivity as the NLFT commanders allegedly still waited for ‘ransom’ to be paid.
It was then that YMA had taken a serious plunge into the murkier world of insurgency-kidnapping industry supposedly mastered well by the Tripura-based militant group NLFT.

The central committee of the Young Mizo Association  (YMA) held a crucial meeting in Aizawl and decided to warn that Mizos would launch a mass search operation including in the jungles of Bangladesh if Deep Mondal, abducted by Bru extremists and the NLFT cadres, and kept in captivity for more than 50 days in Bangladesh, was “not released” at the earliest. 

“If the abductors do not release him on or before January 31, the Mizo people will launch a traditional search operation,” a statement had said.  This gesture was certainly unprecedented as most youth organizations in the northeast India – tribal-based or otherwise – have been generally afflicted with the serious menace of parochialism. Mondal was an outsider.

In fact, in 1990, the then union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed in the V P Singh ministry had in a written reply in Lok Sabha formally described the much influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) as a “parochial body”. One can add that those were different days and even word ‘parochial’ was unpalatable to NSF and the then NSF chief R Paphino had demanded apology from Congress MP Late Shikiho Sema.

Less talk about the parochialism of AASU it’s better as the partisan approach had derailed the highly successful mass movement and at a later stage, the AASU-turned AGP lawmakers found themselves guided by selfish motives, corruption and administrative hara-kiri.
But YMA has stood by its principle even as at times organizations like  Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) or the Mizo students’ federation got itself embroiled into parochialism. Moreover, even till late 1990s, Vai (outsider)-bashing was an annual ritual. 

The protest in 1992 over the admission of the then DIG in Mizoram, Kiran Bedi’s daughter into a popular medical college in Delhi was one such campaign. But it was not a parochial protest. It was a protest rally as Mizos felt let down by a mechanism of law under the rules the northeastern states have. What Bedi did in Mizoram was exploit a loophole in the law. 
All northeastern states are given ‘quota’ essentially to ensure that at least some youngsters (natives) get admission in good educational institutions for medical and engineering courses. These quotas used to be generally mired in controversies. As a cop posted in that state, Kiran Bedi smartly made use of the same. People had taken to the streets in anger, and as they say, rest is history. Thanks to selective amnesia of Indian media and a test case of remoteness of Mizoram, Kiran Bedi stood pristine clean, at least in Lutyen’s city. And in 2011 undoubtedly she was standing shoulder to shoulder with Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare in country’s famous ‘battle’ against corruption. And some of us, albeit in minority, bite our nails (read leaked the wounds), lamenting: if abuse of power and law is corruption, the biographer of the book, ‘I Dare’ (read Kiran Bedi) would find it difficult to plea, ‘not guilty’.

 Well, if abuse of power and the law is not considered corruption, then lesser mortals would be justified in demanding what is!

Nevertheless, YMA wrote a golden chapter in the history of youth uprising in northeast when it shunned any parochialism and went onto depute a ‘search team’ to look for abducted engineer Mondal. He was finally released on March 22, 2014 by the abductors and reunited with his family.
YMA is today an all India organization as a duly registered body under the Societies Registration Act and also has units in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
In retrospect, the mainstream India ought to say a big Kalaw mein (Thank You in Lushai language)’ to YMA for the good gesture. Other youth organizations can pick up few Lushai traits.