Tuesday, October 23, 2012




This has been a Dussehra like no other since we became independent in 1947.

A negative atmosphere and negative forebodings everywhere.

Our dreams of emerging as an Asian power on par with China have received a set-back.

Everything about us seems to be in a bad shape---- the state of politics, the economy, the administration, the style of governance.

There is talk of corruption everywhere, in everything.

The people’s faith in the political leadership has been badly shaken.

The success of a democracy depends on its people and its political leadership.

If the political leaders come to be viewed by growing numbers of citizens as a pack of self-serving, unprincipled and opportunistic money-makers, democracy suffers.

The nation suffers even more.

India presently has the most uninspiring leadership it has ever had.

Leaders with no pride in the country.

Leaders with no principles.

Leaders with no qualms of conscience.

Leaders with no sense of political morality.

It is so in the Congress which is now headed by a set of leaders who will make our greats of the past like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji,  Vallabhbhai Patel etc shed tears in heaven.

It is so in the BJP which has become a party of opportunism and cynicism.

It is so in other political formations.

It is so in the civil society.

When Anna Hazare made his appearance in New Delhi last year and took over the moral leadership of not only India Against Corruption, but also India of The Common Man, we all thought we are going to be born again Indians full of pride and hope for the future.

Anna’s moral crusade has lost its momentum and its moral fervour.

The virus of cynicism and political opportunism has infected his followers too.

As we wake up every morning, what we see on the horizon is not messages of hope and good cheer, but forebodings of more bad things to come.

More allegations, more scams, a further weakening of the moral fibre of our society.

Anything goes. That is our driving force.

People like Shri Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi of Italian origin, and Shri Nitin Gadkari, son of the soil who heads the BJP, are not exceptions to the rule. They are the alleged rule of wheeling and dealing.

Look at the way they have been unabashedly stonewalling demands for the truth, for their explanations on the allegations against them. .

By failing to insist that Shri Vadra account for his huge wealth and remove the suspicions of the people, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi has let herself be suspected as a possible accomplice through silence and inaction.

She has made the Congress that won our independence look no different from unscrupulous political parties of Italy in which  anything goes.

By failing to enforce standards of rectitude on his Ministers and officials, the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh has made himself be suspected as an equal accomplice.

By failing to insist that Shri Gadkari quit the leadership of the BJP and satisfactorily reply to the allegations of wheeling and dealing of the worst kind indulged in by a political leader, the BJP and the RSS have forfeited their claims to be seen as parties with a difference.

By surrounding himself with aides of dubious credentials, Shri Arvind Kejriwal of IAC has lost his moral authority to lead a  new self-rejuvenating movement with a difference.

It is darkness everywhere.

Only people’s anger can dissipate this darkness.

Where is that anger? (24-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)





The misgivings entertained till now in the West regarding the advisability of doing business as usual with  Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, are showing signs of subsiding.

2.That is the message that comes out loud and clear from the visit of Mr.James Bevan, the British High Commissioner to India, to Gujarat on October 22,2012. Till now, the UK was following in the footsteps of other European Union countries in avoiding any governmental, including diplomatic, interaction with the Government of Gujarat in general and Shri Modi in particular. This policy of avoidance of interaction was a sequel to the widespread communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 and the deaths of three Muslims of British origin in the State during the riots. This policy of avoidance of Governmental interactions did not, however, stand in the way of British investors---of Gujarati as well as non-Gujarati origin---investing in Gujarat.

3. The decision to end the policy of avoidance of Governmental interactions was announced by Mr.Hugo Swire, a Minister in the British Foreign Office, some weeks ago. While announcing the decision, he said: “ This will allow us to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest in Gujarat. We want to secure justice for the families of the British nationals who were killed in 2002.” It was in pursuance of this announcement that Mr.Bevan visited Gujarat.

4. Among those he reportedly met during his visit were Shri Modi himself, Ms. Kamala Beniwal, the Governor of the State, and Mr.Arjun Modhvadia, the President of the State Congress. Reading between the lines of the statements and observations of Mr.Bevan, two significant points are evident.

5.Firstly, the UK continues to attach importance to the question of human rights in Gujarat. Secondly, it decided to resume interactions with Shri Modi and other members of the Gujarat Government because it sees no reason to blame Shri Modi personally for the violations in 2002. The British move is a clear indication that the British Government no longer feels that alleged sins of commission and omission of Shri Modi contributed to the massacre of the Muslims in 2002, as alleged by his detractors.

6. Sections of the Muslim community of sub-continental origin in the UK have strongly protested against the British decision. It is significant that the British High Commissioner went ahead with his visit to Gujarat despite these protests. This shows that the British Government took its decision after a careful consideration of its implications and there is little likelihood of its reversing the decision under pressure from its Muslim community.

7.Mr.Bevan has also been quoted as saying that the British Government took the decision on its own without prior consultation with the  Governments of other EU countries. There is an element of surprise that Mr.Bevan undertook the visit during the current election campaign in Gujarat, but he did not seem to be worried that this could be politically misinterpreted in India.

8.The only other EU country which has officially commented on the British decision is Germany. Its officials have been quoted as saying that Germany would wait till the elections to the Gujarat Assembly are over before examining the matter.

9.It is likely that after the State elections, other EU countries may follow the British example. The ultimate attitude of the US is not yet clear.

10. If the British decision is followed by other EU countries, it will pave the way for the end of the diplomatic avoidance of Shri Modi followed by the EU countries since 2002. If the US also joins, it could lead to a collateral strengthening of the Prime Ministerial claims of Shri Modi.

11. While Shri Modi has a very good record as the Chief Minister, what stands in the way of his prime ministerial aspirations is his image as non-secular among political elements outside Gujarat and the diplomatic avoidance by the Western countries.

12.With the seeming beginning of the end of the policy of diplomatic avoidance, only the mental reservations still in India outside Gujarat about his credentials as a pan-Indian and all-community leader will stand in the way of his aspirations. But if the BJP, under his leadership, fights the next elections to the Lok Sabha  unitedly and scores a significant victory, it may be difficult for other political formations in the NDA coalition to oppose the acceptance of Shri Modi as the post-2014 P.M. ( 23-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)