Politics Critical Digest: 19.12.11
For the majority of Indian newspapers and news channels, the rest of the world, apart from India, is scarcely newsworthy. For a country whose rhetoric is always about becoming the next superpower and a thought leader of the 21st Century, its media is ironically insular, having little time or inclination to devote anything more than the briefest mention to events from around the world. Given that this has been my constant gripe against the Indian media, I am especially keen not to be guilty of the same offence while compiling these digests. So this space will be one, which apart from showcasing the best writing from India, will feature an eclectic selection of political stories from around the world from the last fortnight. Much like charity, horizon-widening, begins at home on CriticalTwenties
1. FDI in Retail
Though the political drama over FDI in retail has subsided, the debates have not. P. Sainath and Gurcharan Das differ on whether the FDI in retail episode was a victory for democracy or whether this is just the beginning of a much longer battle between left and right, the modernisers and the traditionalists, the old India and the new.
2. Indo-Pak War of 1971
This week marked 40 years of India’s victory over Pakistan in the Bangladesh War of 1971. Ruchir Joshi recounts 1971 in Calcutta as a young boy and whether the triumphalism which with this event is greeted, was borne out on the streets 40 years ago.
Raza Rumi looks at how differently the stories of the war are narrated in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, modified to suit one’s perspective, in this wonderfully evocative piece:
* I couldn’t help adding this one. One of the finest interviews given by an Indian to a foreign channel, Indira Gandhi, preparing the pitch for military intervention to create Bangladesh:
3. Putin Learns how to Play Hockey
Vladimir Putin was roundly criticised by most sections of the Russian blogosphere and the world media for what seemed like a rigged and patently unfair election that unfolded in Russia last week. The Economist has panned his style of functioning as “out of fashion” and advocated a deep introspection into what Russia needs to compete in a changing world:
Mr. Putin however remains defiant and in an answer to an emailed question in a marathon four-and-a-half hour phone-in session brushed aside talk of emergency meetings in the Kremlin saying he was actually busy learning how to play hockey instead!
He didn’t do too badly, though am not sure whether the goal-tender was in best form (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O-Gh4yvWyw)
4. A Head of State is Punished
Head of states, even respected ones, do get punished for their wrongs. As incredible as this may sound to an Indian, a French court this week, handed out a 2-year suspended sentence to former French President Jacques Chirac for corruption at the time he was Mayor of Paris. The rule of law wins out in France:
5. The Outsider
As the Iowa Caucus in the Republican Primaries approaches, it’s anybody’s game. Still hanging on, in my opinion, is the most eligible candidate, and one of a very few sane right-of-centre Republicans to remain in America. Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Obama’s Ambassador to China is still in the running. But he’s Mormon, believes in climate change and has adopted an India girl. Can he really secure the ticket?